Ben Lerner, 10:04

I’ve just finished Ben Lerner’s metafictional novel 10:04, and I recommend you buy it. Not just because, if you buy through that link I just offered, I’ll get a ridiculously small commission that will pay for about one tenth of one mile of gas on a 24mpg car, but because it has made me think a great deal about a number of themes in my own life: the character of our relationships, our material connections to other people near and far, the character and value (and non-value) of art, the possibility of an individual and a shared future, the overlap between the past and the present (and the future), the ways that arriving futures can affect the nature of the history leading up to them (a history that fails to achieve realization can vanish like Michael J. Fox’s hand in Back to the Future – for which this book is named), and the redemptive possibilities within life and history.

Continue reading

Excerpts #29 — Joseph Conrad and George Santayana on Fragments of Vision, Bearing on Questions about Motion & Stability

Most of us do not spend large parts of our lives on boats, but in cars. We cannot, thus, easily generate the kinds of metaphors that must have come naturally to writers from the late 19th and especially early 20th centuries, who would have traveled by boat primarily, and for whom boat and water metaphors would have been the most natural for communicating concepts of motion-against-stability. Today, I suppose, we do not attempt to say anything about motion as it is experienced in cars, or attempt to capture, in a text, the sense of the rushing past of the world on a highway — if anything, we simply show it on film. 

Continue reading

Recent and Older Acquisitions on Origen of Alexandria

A few words about some recent acquisitions on one particular pre-Nicene Church figure, Origen of Alexandria, and some older acquisitions regarding the same that have been sitting on my shelf.

Continue reading

MacIntyre — Secularization and Moral Change, Some Concluding Thoughts

The previous post summarized the outlines of the course of the arguments made by Alasdair MacIntyre in the first, the second, and the third parts of his Secularization and Moral Change. As with the posts summarizing the individual sections, here I must reiterate that Peter Webster has what is probably the best summary of the book out there. I have offered a set of excerpts from A. V. Demant’s review. I also have asked whether the pre-modern world was the unified moral community that MacIntyre suggests it is.

Outlines and summary completed, a somewhat haphazard collection of my reflections/thoughts on Secularization and Moral Change follows below.

Continue reading

MacIntyre, Demant, and the Book of Sirach

Here I offer a question about whether MacIntyre’s framework in Secularization and Moral Change (we first reviewed part one, then part two, and finally part three, as well as summarizing the three parts) is entirely consistent with the evidence of previous ages regarding the novelty, within the modern period, of heterogeneous classes generating the loss of a sense of a shared moral community (and, thus, generating the loss of a shared religious community, culturally and sociologically).

I will not presume to answer this question, but I will offer material that will, I hope, allow one to ask it reasonably.

Continue reading