Never say DIE 21

Diversity, inclusion and equity—put them all together, they spell DIE, and death to much that is best in American life they bode.

The “woke” own the culture of the declining West.

That is why the West is declining.

Excellent writer of achingly sad stories and super-perceptive critic, Joseph Epstein writes at the Wall Street Journal:

The extent of the woke victory is perhaps best demonstrated by the long list of cultural institutions they have captured and now control. Two of the country’s important newspapers, the New York Times and the Washington Post, are unashamedly woke. The New Yorker and the Atlantic have ceased to be general-interest magazines and are now specific-interest publications—that interest being the spread of woke ideas. The major television networks early fell in line without a fight.

Universities, in their humanities and social-sciences divisions, are not merely devoted to the propagation of woke ideas but initiate most of them. In turning away from the ideals of authority and objectivity in favor of clearly partisan views, these institutions have lost their former prestige yet are apparently sustained by the confidence that preaching woke doctrine is a higher calling.

Under the deep division in the country, certain prizes—Pulitzers, MacArthur grants, honorary degrees—go almost exclusively to people whose views are woke. (Presidential medals—in the humanities, in the arts, for freedom—are dictated by whether the president in office is woke or not.) Under political correctness, one of the main planks in the woke platform, freedom in the arts is vastly curtailed owing to strictures against what is known as “appropriation” which disapproves of whites writing about blacks, men about women, heterosexuals about homosexuals. Under woke culture, art is vastly inhibited; humor, because so much of comedy is politically incorrect, largely excluded.

All this might be deleterious enough, but woke culture adds to the nightmare by punishing its opponents through disgrace and cancellation, the latter often affecting not only reputation but income. To suggest that surgery and hormone treatment in connection with transgendering may bring biological penalties, or that riotous looting has any connection at all with the Black Lives Matter organization, or that the anti-Israel movements on campus are a form of thinly veiled anti-Semitism, or that defunding the police will above all hurt black and Latino communities—all this under the reign of woke culture is beyond the pale, and disqualifies anyone who dares to suggest any of it.

The unwoke are left outside the prevailing culture. But what form might resistance to the dominant regime take? A small number of magazines continue to exist outside the woke culture, among them Commentary, First Things, the Claremont Review of Books. The [Wall Street] Journal does too, and ought to be supported. Those journalists and intellectuals who haven’t gone woke need to be encouraged and reminded that they are not alone. Argument and humor must be regularly deployed against the absurdity of woke language and slogansDiversity, inclusion and equity—put them all together, they spell DIE, and death to much that is best in American life they bode.

Those of us who sense that the greatness of the U.S. is dwindling feel that a good part of the reason is the defeat of traditional values and their replacement by woke ones. Identity politics may be the rule in the Democratic Party, but its origin is in woke culture, which accounts for why the country is filled with so many angry people, for whom no evidence of progress lessens the intensity of their grievances.

Although the culture war would appear to be over, to surrender to the dreariness of woke culture—which tramples on art, is without intellectual authority, allows no humor, and is vindictive toward those who oppose it—is unthinkable. So praise the Lord and pass the ammunition; it’s back to the trenches, for there isn’t any choice. The culture war must continue.

Yes. Only, instead of ‘the Lord” we praise Western civilization (enriched by its accretion of cultural appropriations); the patriarchy, capitalism, the Enlightenment, logic, reason, the American Republic as founded by the Framers of the Constitution, the US Constitution itself; the bourgeoisie from which class almost every great innovator has arisen, and all the innovations that have made us prosperous, comfortable, healthy, strong, informed, entertained, amused … And undefeatable?

Posted under Culture by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, July 7, 2021

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Relax and enjoy 5

On the reasonable assumption that most of our readers are atheists and at least some of them are old, we quote part of an article by Joseph Epstein, great story writer and essayist.

He hands on, in his own words, the drift of a philosopher’s advice on how to face the last of life:

In the last stage of life, even with the cheeriest outlook, it isn’t easy to keep thoughts of death at bay. Consider, though, the advice of the Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 B.C.), who lent his name to the school of Epicureanism but who was, in my reading of him, the world’s first shrink. Epicureanism is generally understood to be about indulging fleshly pleasures, especially those of food and drink, but it is, I think, more correctly understood as the search for serenity.

Epicurus, who met with friends (disciples, really) in his garden in Athens, devised a program to rid the world of anxiety. His method, like most methods of personal reform, had set steps, in this case four such steps. Here they are:

Step One: Do not believe in God, or in the gods. They most likely do not exist, and even if they did, it is preposterous to believe that they could possibly care, that they are watching over you and keeping a strict accounting of your behavior.

Step Two: Don’t worry about death. Death, be assured, is oblivion, a condition not different from your life before you were born: an utter blank. Forget about heaven, forget about hell; neither exists — after death there is only the Big O (oblivion) and the Big N (nullity), nothing, nada, zilch. Get your mind off it.

Step Three: Forget, as best you are able, about pain. Pain is either brief, and will therefore soon enough diminish and be gone; or, if it doesn’t disappear, if it lingers and intensifies, death cannot be far away, and so your worries are over here, too, for death, as we know, also presents no problem, being nothing more than eternal dark, dreamless sleep.

Step Four: Do not waste your time attempting to acquire exactious luxuries, whose pleasures are sure to be incommensurate with the effort required to gain them. From this it follows that ambition generally — for things, money, fame, power — should also be foresworn. The effort required to obtain them is too great; the game isn’t worth the candle.

To summarize, then: forget about God, death, pain and acquisition, and your worries are over. There you have it, Epicurus’ Four-Step Program to eliminate anxiety and attain serenity. I’ve not kitchen-tested it myself, but my guess is that, if one could bring it off, this program really would work.

Posted under Atheism, Commentary, Philosophy by Jillian Becker on Friday, April 16, 2010

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