Chivalry & the French Revolution

Chivalry & the French Revolution:

One of the periodic articles about the alleged death of chivalry has garnered a strange reply from Stacy McCain. The reply is more interesting than the original post, which is well-traveled ground for us.

What Burke denounced as a “barbarous philosophy” was the spirit of modern radicalism — Liberté, égalité, fraternité — that rejects all tradition and custom as oppressive superstition. The mob that invaded Versailles in October 1789, insulting the Queen whose honor Burke thought should be avenged by “ten thousand swords,” was acting in accordance with this radical “scheme of things,” wherein “a king is but a man, a queen is but a woman [and] a woman is but an animal.”
If you want to know how to restore chivalry, you must forget the idea that chivalry is about manners. It is about sacrifice. The problem with this analysis is that it neglects the degree to which Marie Antoinette was always treated like an animal: a sacrificial animal. Let me quote here from Robert Calasso's The Ruin of Kasch, page 70-2.
Marie Antoinette... entered Strasbourg as a fourteen-year-old fiancee in a crystal coach.... On an island in the middle of the Rhine, the masters of ceremony had chosen the place where the archduchess was to be handed over, naked, to her husband's envoys. A special pavilion, in rooms decorated with tributes to the future queen, had been built to receive her.


On an island washed by the currents of the Rhine, a wooden pavilion had been erected: "the house of the consignment." There, Maria Antonietta, as she had been called in childhood, became forever Marie Antoinette. The consignment took place on an international border, which ran down the middle of the pavilion and through the great table in the center of the main hall. Marie Antoinette entered the pavilion from the Austrian side. In the last room before the border she was slowly undressed before the escort that had accompanied her from Vienna. Not even a ribbon or a hairpin was to remain in contact with her body. She was thus offered, naked, to fabrics woven in the new French land -- to the silk shift, the stockings from Lyon, the little slippers fashioned by the Court's shoemaker....

[T]he passage through ritual death was noted by the many eyes that were observing her and that would continue to observe her until her biological death. This act of sacrificial stripping effected her complete transfer to the land that was clothing her with destiny. Protocol is the last power for protecting abandoned symbols. It ensures that symbols, even when they are not perceived as such, can continue to act[.]
The French Revolution meant to tear down old symbols, but -- this seems to be Calasso's key thesis -- all it achieved by abandoning the rituals was to restore the blood to what long ago had become symbolic sacrifices. The ancient order raises its head once the rituals that placated it have been abandoned.
The archaeologist P.V. Glob believed that these were "offerings to the gods of fertility and good fortune"...

Many bog bodies show signs of being stabbed, bludgeoned, hanged or strangled, or a combination of these methods. In some cases the individual had been beheaded, and in the case of the Osterby Head found at Kohlmoor, near to Osterby, Germany in 1948, the head had been deposited in the bog without its body.

Usually the corpses were naked, sometimes with some items of clothing with them, particularly headgear. In a number of cases, twigs, sticks or stones were placed on top of the body, sometimes in a cross formation, and at other times forked sticks had been driven into the peat to hold the corpse down. According to the archaeologist P.V. Glob, "this probably indicates the wish to pin the dead man firmly into the bog." Some bodies show signs of torture, such as Old Croghan Man, who had deep cuts beneath his nipples.

Some bog bodies, such as Tollund Man from Denmark, have been found with the rope used to strangle them still around their necks. Some, such as the Yde Girl in the Netherlands and bog bodies in Ireland, had the hair on one side of their heads closely cropped, although this could be due to one side of their head being exposed to oxygen for a longer period of time than the other. The bog bodies seem consistently to have been members of the upper class: their fingernails are manicured, and tests on hair protein routinely record good nutrition.
The Catholic churches burned in the French Revolution had been the halls of sacrifice, where now only one victim was sacrificed: and when they drank his blood and ate his flesh, he was satisfied. Yet in the ancient order, the old order and the new one, there was always sacrifice.

All honor comes from sacrifice. Honor is sacrifice: and therefore the greatest honor is for the one who stands up and offers to be the sacrifice. This is why we honor those who put on the uniform of our military, which is nothing less than an offer to go forward into the ritual of sacrifice so that the rest of us do not have to do so. In this they are doing just as Jesus is said to have done for all mankind; as Beowulf did for Hrothgar.

It is important to realize exactly why the queen was not just a woman, and not just an animal. It is important to realize why the queen, above all, deserved ten thousand swords. She was the sacrifice. She was the royal child sacrificed by Austria to France after the Seven Years War, given over in ritual death so that other children would not have to be given over to war.

It is not for no reason that the words "sacrifice" and "sacred" are so closely linked. This was the order that the Revolution broke, and the reason the streets of Paris ran red with blood.

Infants Behind the Wheel

Infants Behind the Wheel

H/t Zero Hedge

An angry rant about taxes. It's going to get worse before it gets better.

via Instapundit

How to Meet Nice Guys

How to Meet Nice Guys

It's an old problem: where to go, what to do, to meet nice fellows you might want to date and even, some day, marry. For gently raised young women of prior centuries, the task might have been entirely handled by her family. Modern young women demanded the right to do their own screening and picking. Sometimes that meant choosing from among lifelong acquaintances from the neighborhood. Sometimes it meant meeting young men at church, or school, or (eventually) at work. These days, who has time? Who goes to church? Who stays in touch with the old neighborhood, or listens to what one's family thinks about a prospective date?

But anonymous hookups are so dispiriting, not to mention how many of them peter out after a one-night stand, or become outright dangerous. Along came, where you could be introduced to a guy who had filled out a form, and you could trust him enough to be alone with him after only a few hours, without knowing anything about his family, his history, or his character! Except, of course, that is a lot better at fostering introductions than about vetting your prospective paramour. The company has now been sued by a woman who is shocked to discover that a stranger is still a stranger. A guy she met through followed her home after the second date and assaulted her. Now she wants a judge to shut the company down until it institutes an effective mechanism for screening out sexual predators.

Maybe will have to start attending church with its male members and getting to know their families and friends. And it can have a special division that roughs the guy up if he doesn't live up to his reputation as a gentleman.

The Joys of Urbanism

The Joys of Urbanism

Here's how big a city containing the entire world population of 6.9 billion would have to be if it were the same density as some of the world's cities:


New York:


San Francisco:



Most of you are idiots

Most of You are Idiots with Nothing to Say:

Present company excepted, of course. However, that is the conclusion of two separate articles treating the bounty of literature being published today.

Why read?

If we take the argument a step further, we face the possibility that the humanities are actually countereconomic; the notion of alterity and sympathy, taken seriously, would undo the profit motive and put a fair amount of grit into the workings of economic activity. It would undermine the individualism upon which exchange, in its current forms, is based.
Why write?
A loud, swarming noise of hundreds of thousands of books published each year, one almost indistinguishable from the next. Here are three new biographies of Coco Chanel, published almost simultaneously. A giant stack of memoirs about being sexually abused as a child. A dozen or so fantasy trilogies that begin with a poor girl who, upon the death of her mother, discovers she’s actually heir to the throne and must fight off usurpers.
Surely, though, the best ideas float to the top?
Does one dare to raise one’s voice above the commotion, try to draw some attention away from those taking up the spotlight? Who gets in that rarefied space is still determined by the writer’s gender, connections, beauty, nepotism, youth, or “platform.” Not even the most idealistic among the cultural critics bother to argue that the system is merit-based.
That's from a female author, by the way.

We've occasionally discussed the problem -- usually in the context of music -- of "Where are our Wagners?" Eric reminds us that we are in a time of extraordinary richness of sharing: we can hear forms of music that most of the greats never heard while they were composing; and those great composers; and many other forms as well.

This should be producing some magnificent synthesis, Beethoven with punk rock: but what we're getting instead is... well, it's garbage. Literature and academic thought is likewise drowning in sewage.

What is to be done about this? Also, what does it mean that more variety -- even more access to the greatest that history has ever produced -- does not reliably produce greats, but seems instead to drown them? I have heard that happiness is often imperiled by having too many choices; this seems like another problem of that type.

It is a problem not often considered in philosophy, which often follows Aristotle's formula that 'the good' is what things desire, and they desire those things because they lack them in some sense. Here is a case where we lack nothing -- not the best. Yet, lacking nothing, we are unable to make good things ourselves. It is as if the magic has broken, and the spell receded: all that is left are the old things, the works we cannot make alone.

A Solution to Global Warming

A Solution to Global Warming

According to the San Francisco Business Times, marijuana grown indoors is responsible for 1% of U.S. electrical production and contributes 17 million metric tons of carbon per year, not counting exhalations.

A couple of years ago, I spent a little over a year representing the bankrupt owners of a large redwood timber company in Humboldt County, California. The few local towns are tiny. They used to depend almost entirely on the timber industry, before it was ripped to shreds. More recently, the local economy has given the superficial impression of depending on tourism (it's an extremely beautiful, remote area), but it's widely believed that the actual source of income buoying the place up is grow-houses. Locals believe that most of the rental house stock is in use as indoor pot farms. A very small town supports two fully-stocked hydroponics-supply stores.

The S.F. Business Times asserts that, after medical marijuana was legalized in 1996, residential electricity use in Humboldt County jumped 50% in comparison with other parts of California. One of the issues complicating my bankruptcy case was the presence of squatters in the redwood forests, who grew pot in the clearings and had a distressing tendency to start small brush wars in response to intruders. Paradise, man! Global warming probably will make the pot crop even more vigorous.


Discuss amongst your ownselves.

While I mostly agree that raising taxes on the rich isn't the answer to erasing the federal deficit, I can't help observing that there's precious little evidential support for the view that allowing marginal tax rates for the highest income bracket to climb to 40% is either unprecedented or gol-durned unAmerican.

The fact is that for the past century, the top marginal tax rate was nearly ALWAYS been higher than 35%. Not that "it's always/usually been that way" is a particularly solid normative argument for taxing the living daylights out of the Chinese toy-loving minions of the richest one percent.

On the otter heiny, "it's always/usually been that way" makes a pretty good argument against the notion that Armaggedon will result if we raise taxes on Teh Evil Rich (among whom the blog princess is mildly disturbed to find herself) :p

UPDATE: the argument conservatives *should* be making:

I find this simply fascinating.

In a blog post that I thought was about Congress, a self described progressive suddenly takes a hard left turn into fatty-hate:

We are a nation of sacred cows. I'm talking about two aspects of America. One is our personal tonnage and the other is our indignation when anyone looks askance at someone who is obese. If feeling disgust and annoyance around people who are seriously obese is unfair, well, count me as one of the unfair. One reason has to do with feeling uncomfortable and frustrated in the company of people who are both self-destructive and heedless. The other has to do with those whose addictions add to everyone's difficulties. They cost us all a lot. The losses are measurable exactly as war's costs are measurable -- in young lives and a nation's treasure.

I wonder if this is going to be the new meme, now that hating on Republicans seems to be becoming passe', especially since the supposedly progressive President is starting to sound like one. And since obesity knows no color line, there are all sorts of entertaining implications to this line of thinking.

I suspect that this particular blogger is a retired baby-boomer, since he (the voice sounds like a he to me) has the time to post dozens of posts a day. I notice this blog showing up on memorandum much too often for a blog that appears to have no readers. Or at least no one who comments.

That gives me a thought.

Ymar, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to show this person error of their ways in your winning style. See how long it takes for him to start deleting your comments. (Anyone else who wishes to, can join in as well.) There is certainly enough to comment on over there.

Budget Spectacles

Eat the Rich

Obviously last week's budget drama -- the impending doom of a shut-down of non-essential federal government activity -- was just a warm-up for the festivities surrounding the impending doom of a failure to raise the debt ceiling. (I'll add here my apologies to households expecting a military paycheck, as I would have considered freezing those funds a cause for a general public uprising, almost alone among the proposed effects of a shut-down. Cutting off paychecks to Congress would have been more my speed.)

Most of the excitement is generated by two sides shouting "Spend less!" and "Tax more!" at each other. So now might be a good time to consider Iowahawk's no-nonsense approach to finding the additional tax money to fund the nation's $10 billion-a-day spending habit:

12:01 AM, January 1

Let's start the year out right by going after some evil corporations and their obscene profits. And who is more evil than those twin spawns of Lucifer himself, Exxon Mobil and Walmart? Together these two largest American industrial behemoths raked in, between them, $34 billion in 2010 global profits. Let's teach 'em both a lesson and confiscate it for the public good. This will get us through...

9:52 AM January 4 . . .

Iowahawk manages to make it through the end of 2011 with a series of confiscations, then finds himself at the beginning of 2012 needing to do it again. Anyone know, he wonders, where we can get more plutocrats?


The United Nations, an organization that never met a pressing human rights issue it wasn't willing to pretend to care about bloviate into submission, has decided to deploy its unique brand of Multisyllabic Might against Gaia-raping capitalist running pig-dogs everywhere:
Bolivia will this month table a draft United Nations treaty giving "Mother Earth" the same rights as humans — having just passed a domestic law that does the same for bugs, trees and all other natural things in the South American country.

The bid aims to have the UN recognize the Earth as a living entity that humans have sought to "dominate and exploit" — to the point that the "well-being and existence of many beings" is now threatened.

The wording may yet evolve, but the general structure is meant to mirror Bolivia's Law of the Rights of Mother Earth, which Bolivian President Evo Morales enacted in January.

That document speaks of the country's natural resources as "blessings," and grants the Earth a series of specific rights that include rights to life, water and clean air; the right to repair livelihoods affected by human activities; and the right to be free from pollution.

It also establishes a Ministry of Mother Earth, and provides the planet with an ombudsman whose job is to hear nature's complaints as voiced by activist and other groups, including the state.

Because Goddess knows, there is nothing your average Gaia-raper fears more than those four little words: "We need to talk." Look for this latest humyn rights initiative to be just as wildly successful as their last effort:
A month after the United Nations last summer announced the creation of a new, $500 million-a-year organization to promote equality for women in global affairs, the U.N.’s own investigators revealed that 15 years of “gender mainstreaming” efforts within the UN Secretariat have been a sweeping and costly failure.

The report, issued in August 2010, evaluates how gender mainstreaming -- the term that the U.N. uses to describe achieving equality between the sexes in all walks of life -- is being incorporated in all U.N. work to “ensure that the different needs and circumstances of women and men are identified and taken into account when policies and projects are developed and implemented.”

Is there anything the sternly wagging finger of international consensus can't do?

We think not.

Eek - a Republican

Eek -- a Republican

Another Maggie's Farm find: this essay in Slate by a woman who's struggling to understand how her best friend can be a Republican. She seems like an honest, caring friend whose opinions are based on carefully educated thought -- and yet she opposes Obamacare and the federal funding of Planned Parenthood! How can the author reconcile her revulsion with her love?

Nowhere in this amazing piece do I find even a glimmer of recognition that the Republican friend might also have to struggle to deal with her progressive friend's beliefs, or with her circle's casual assumption of superiority.

O wad some Pow'r the Giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us

Republican Virtues vs. Servile Institutions

Republican Virtues vs. Servile Institutions

I recommend these two video lectures from the American Enterprise Institute website, recommended to me over at Maggie's Farm. The first is Charles Murray, summarizing a book he's nearly completed on changing patterns of industriousness, honesty, marriage, and religious involvement in the lower and upper thirds of the American population in terms of education and income. His main observation is that, while the upper third always has had stronger showings in these areas than the lower third, the divergence between the two groups has grown over the last 50 years even as both groups have dropped off in their "scores." A favorite snippet: he believes that the upper group is afraid to "preach what it practices," perhaps out of some diffidence about the propriety of pushing on others the practices that have worked so well for them and their families.

The other lecture is Bill Kristol, speaking about a collection of the neo-conservative essays of his father, Irving Kristol. A favorite snippet: a neo-liberal is someone who's been mugged by reality, but refuses to press charges.

Western Waters

Western Waters:

I imagine some of you are getting curious about my continued absence. A few weeks ago I got a call from BLACKFIVE's Mr. Wolf, who asked me to come down and help him out with something. I'm still down here, and I'm not sure how long I'll be. As I settle in, though, it'll be easier to find time for the Hall.

If you were curious about whether Mr. Wolf lives up to his nickname -- "Winston Wolf. I solve problems." -- here's the view off the back porch of the quarters he arranged for us.

So, when we're not working, it's not a bad place to be. Still, all this sun and wind can get you a bit dehydrated after a while. There was some good news about that today, though.


I just wasn’t cut out to be a Chinese Tiger Mom. I’m more of an Irish Setter Dad. Here are some of the things my daughters, Muffin and Poppet, and my son, Buster, were never allowed to do:

• go to Mass naked

• attend a sleepover at Charlie Sheen’s house

• mix Daddy a martini using sweet vermouth

• play the violin within earshot of me

Have you ever heard a kid learning to play the violin? A cat in the microwave is nothing to it. And let me add an addendum to the things my children were never allowed to do​—​put a cat in the microwave. I’m not saying it didn’t happen; I’m just saying they weren’t allowed to do it.

Whose children are going to succeed in life, Amy Chua’s or mine? Her Lulu has that violin going for her​—​there’s hardly a Silicon Valley billionaire, Wall Street plutocrat, senator, four-star general, or pope who isn’t a violin virtuoso. And Sophia, who tickles the ivories, can always say, “Don’t tell Mom I work for Goldman Sachs, she thinks I play piano in a house of ill repute.” But my kids practice too, hour after hour every day. They practice being jerks. And since almost every boss I’ve ever had was a jerk, this gives them a leg up. Plus there’s the cat in the microwave. That shows an inquisitive, experimental turn of mind. You can see how electronic cat-zapping could lead directly to the invention of something like Facebook.

Heh... :)