July 28, 2016

Now Playing

Captain Fantastic
(Reviewed July 27, 2016)

A movie to promote the self-conceit of ageing hippies left behind by "history"

Hunt for the Wilderpeople
(Reviewed July 12, 2016)

A funny-serious adventure in the photogenic New Zealand wilderness that, like the author’s Boy has coming-of-age pretensions

The Lobster
(Reviewed June 23, 2016)

A fantastical satire against bureaucracy whose real-world target is less than immediately recognizable

Me Before You
(Reviewed June 14, 2016)

A well-made film that teaches an obnoxious lesson

ENTRY from July 28, 2016

"Migrant-filled Europe is spiralling into chaos," read the headline to an article by Roger Boyes in The Times of London yesterday morning after the murder on Tuesday by knife-wielding teenage Islamicists of a French priest while he was celebrating mass. It created a nicely ironic contrast with the headline to Dan Balz’s article in this morning’s Washington Post: "Donald Trump once again proves he’s the chaos candidate." Needless to say, Messrs Boyes and Balz had quite different ideas of "chaos" in mind, but for anyone less narrowly focused on the little world of American politics than the American media are, Mr Trump may be looking more plausibly than ever like the "chaos candidate" in Roger Boyes’ sense — which is to say, the one people are likely to turn to when chaos threatens.

This must be all the more likely when the "chaos" threatened by the Post is so obviously bogus. Mr Balz’s anti-Trump outburst, one of many in today’s papers and on today’s websites, was inspired by the bouncing billionaire’s joking remark at a press conference yesterday about the alleged Russian hack of the Democratic National Committee’s e-mails. According to The New York Times, Mr Trump said that maybe the Russians should be given the job of seeking out the more than 30,000 missing e-mails from Hillary Clinton’s illegal private server — since, so it seems to me to be understood, our own government has so far proven unequal to the task. "I think," he said, purporting to address the Russians directly, "you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press." Then, almost under his breath, "Let’s see if that happens. That’ll be next. Yes, sir." Can there be any doubt about the sarcasm? Yet here’s what Dan Balz had to say about it:

No one could remember a serious candidate for president seeming to urge a foreign power to carry out espionage on the United States and at the same time call on that country to intrude on a presidential election and possibly influence the outcome. It is another example of Trump doing and saying the unthinkable and daring the Democrats and his opponents to make it cost him politically.  Full Entry

Media MadnessMy book Media Madness, is available for order from Encounter Books. Less a polemic than an attempt to understand the origins of the mass media’s folie de grandeur, the book is a warning even to those who are deserting the big networks, newsweeklies and large-circulation dailies not to carry with them into the more attractive world of niche media the undisciplined habits of thought that the old media culture has given rise to. To order this book, click here.

Honor, A HistoryAlso available, now in paperback, is Honor, A History, which was first published in 2006. A study of Western cultural artifacts, from the epics of Homer to the movies and TV shows of today, it is focused on explaining why Western ideas of honor developed so differently from those elsewhere — and especially from the savage honor cultures of the Islamic world. The book then goes on to trace the collapse and ultimate rejection of the old Western honor culture from World War I until the present day and to suggest the conditions that would have to prevail for its revival.

Recent Articles

Master of Suspense June 7, 2016.
Hitchcock made the movies and the movies made post-modernism — from The Claremont Review of Books, Winter 2015/16 ... Full Article

Scandals and Experts May 31, 2016.
What if the Trumpists’ much-mentioned grievance is not so much their own misfortunes as the insufferable self-righteousness of their supposed betters? — From The New Criterion of May, 2016 ... Full Article

Politics Without Honor April 30, 2016.
 To put honor, trust, decorum in the service of self-interest is to misunderstand the meaning of the words — From The New Criterion of April, 2016 ... Full Article

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