Merry Christmas!

I hope that all of those who may happen to visit this blog today have a felicitous day as we remember the incarnation of the Word and the coming of the Messiah, who is the very One come into the chalky frame, into this quintessence of dust. What can we say? Truly, God is great!

* * *

I'm out here on the farm enjoying the fellowship of my diaspora'ed siblings.Many hours in the hot tub and several cigars burnt. Still no presents wrapped. LOL.

I've been finally sitting down with Seneca and doing a serious read. It seems that all of the translations basically suck, because his Latin is even more concise than the usual. Very interesting though. I think I'll get a pair of commentaries and work through a pair of plays. His meld of philosophy, politics, and bloody bombast intrigues me. Plus, he's the huge influence on the Racine and Our Bard.

I'm relatively low-key about it, but I should note that I'm going to Japan on Friday and shan't be back until Tuesday, 7 January. The secondary objective of my travels is to see the country where my greatgrandfather and grandmother were born, and where the Noss family worked in the missions field. The primary objective of my trip is to meet a wonderfully nice complicated Reformed girl with whom I've been corresponding for some time now. Her name is Emeth Smith.

And I'm on vacation generally, so I don't expect to be reporting to this palantir that often, whether as Denethor or as Saruman. LOL


Release from Bondage

Yeah, that's almost make me sound like a character in a Tolkien lay. LOL Anyways, I'm finally done with finals and what is probably the worst semster since Junior year in undergrad is over. I really can't express how happy I am to be done.

I have thought of blogging some of my family law final exam answer. As my father said, "Your professor is . . . perverse." Seriously, this was the most screwed-up fact pattern I've seen yet.

This movie is awesome!

I saw TTT with my parents and sisters the other night and was thoroughly delighted. Yes, Jackson did editorialize and dramatize, especially Faramir. But he included an amazing amount of Appendix material (Gimli on dwarf-women, Aragorn's funeral scene). He managed to get Rohan and Isengard completely right. But Gollum completely steals the show. Although the character is CGI on the human actor's outline, it's the most heart-wrenching thing in effect. It's a fine balance to capture, but the character succeeds in being deeply tragic and heart-breaking pathetic. Just like Tolkien meant in the bookÑas part-examplar of the Gospel.


Another silly personality test

Although this time it's remarkably accurate. Faramir is my favorite character, but I've always felt morally closer to Denethor, if that makes sense.



If I were a character in The Lord of the Rings, I would be Denethor, Man of Gondor, Ruling Steward of proud Gondor and father of Boromir and Faramir.

In the movie, I am played by John Noble.

Who would you be?
Zovakware Lord of the Rings Test  with Perseus Web Survey Software


Tidbits from Wills cramming

There are three theoretical positions on estates: (1) unrestricted right to devise/bequeath; (2) absolute intestacy (inheritance by operation of law); (3) escheat to the State (100% estate tax). In reality, most testamentary systems use a mix of all three. But in a show of hands, a crowd of law students supported the three theories as absolutes in 90-5-5 ratio, respectively.

At common law, children were responsible for supporting their parents. Per Social Security Act of 1933 [at 42 U.S.C. ¤ 1396a(a)(17)(D)], Congress has abrogated the common law duty of support.

Adoption is traditional in Roman law and nontraditional in Anglo-American common law. Britian didn't legalize adoption until 1925. Maryland and Texas were the first states to allow it, in 1850. The majority of states didn't follow suit until almost 1900.

"The right to receive property by devise or descent is not a natural right but a privilege granted by the state." Hall v. Vallandingham, 540 A.2d 1162

The grand defect of American law is its failure to charge losing plaintiff with attorney fees.

Ordinarily, today, in our enlightened age, children have no statutory protection against deliberate disinheritance. However, minor children in Louisiana still have an absolute right to forced share (legitime).

It appears that the trust as an institution owes its existence largely to the Franciscan poverty debates of c. 1300. At least, that's how trusts where introduced into Anglo-American law.


The tattered worldview.

Conversation with two friends has recently led me to consider whether that my central personal-existential problem is that I lack a cohesive overall framework for interpreting the world, or at least of man and society.

Following certain late Dutch theologians, one might be tempted to say that "Everyone has a worldview." Right. In fact, the whole idea of "worldview" is, for my money, eminently deconstructable. It is essentially a creature of the nineteenth-century and its desire to elide hard compartment distinctions in favor of an all-encompassing unity. (Think Mendelssohn's violin concerto.) Reformed theologians today, especially, like to speak of "worldview" because they want to rebel against the Enlightenment"s compartmentalization of the disciplines, which effectively marginalized theology as a collateral science. This compartmentalization was itself, in turn, a revolt against the old scala naturae, which posited theology as queen of the sciences and philosophy as its ancilla.

Accordingly, it is really not necessary that "everyone have a worldview"--at least not in the sense that the worldview rubric is somehow indispensable for relating theology to the rest of knowledge. Indeed, I think that one can argue rather well that the worldview rubric has some unhealthy side effects: specifically the erosion of good category distinctions between say, ethics and physics. On the popular level, this is reflected in the heavy-handed moralistic presentation of the sciences in most Baptist curricula, to give an example.

Perhaps most importantly, the Faith doesn't really require that one have a worldview as such. Look at the creeds. They don't make claims about the nature of reality or even of truth in as many words. They do make a set of specific claims about the Persons of the Godhead in terms of creation, incarnation, resurrection, and final judgment. Furthermore, when Paul asks us to take every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, he is speaking in martial-political terms: he is making claims about the Son's identity as Lord over thought, not about thought per se.

So perhaps I can rationalize not having a full-orbed world-and-life view, if you understand my above caveats. Existentially, what gives occasion to this suggestion is the fact that I don't feel very confident at all about having much of a worldview lately. There was a time in which I didn't feel at all this way. I was proud to have an aggressive, triumphalistic worldview. It's not that I've been there, done that. No. I still actually have a fairly robust philosophy of history. And I have a solid, orthodox Christology. But about the larger questions of theology, literature, and politics, I've become fairly agnostic. Is democracy really an a good form of government? Was FDR entirely unjustified in what he did? Should the state intervene in the economy at all? Are wars of religion justifiable? Is the rule of faith inclusive of soteriology proper? In what sense is sola scriptura correct? Do believers alone possess just title to things? Is natural law really so separate from a regime of theonomy? Should the Church be autonomous of the Emperor?

I used to think I had fast answers on all of these things. It was a matter of applying the presuppositions prejudices of my worldview and finding Bible verses to proof it. Now, I have come to see that many of the teachings which people around me cherish so strongly are have not those grand pedigrees or justifications which they suggest. Take the Neomarxist critique of the traditional family: in reality, yes, there was real oppression of women, but mostly in the context of a nineteeth-century struggling with the Enlightenment's negation of femininity as hyperemotional and nonrational. Or take the Reformed and Baptist custom of preaching very long rhetorical sermons: in reality, this comes from the Humanists' interest in promoting civic virtue through public rhetoric in Renaissance Florence by rediscovering classical oratorical models; it has no parallel at all in the Bible, except perhaps in the epistles of Paul: indeed, biblical examples consistently illustrate dialogic teaching building off of Q & A.

I have committed myself to what is really the equivalent of intellectual philology--that is, to tracing the history and genesis of discrete ideas. The immediate effect of this work is to undermine my confidence in the sort of round, cohesive integrity claimed by various intellectual systems, from Platonism to Calvinism to Utilitarianism. Instead, bodies of doctrine emerge as structural creations erected as additions or new construction on a much-rebuilt site.

To be continued . . .


Succinct grad school comment

"It's interesting, isn't it? You get in based on GRE scores - that show the breadth of your reading - in order to do work focused so narrowly that (the way I think of it) only 10 people in the world might care about your work. Then, once you've mastered that tiny aspect of your discipline, you're considered prepared for the job of counseling / mass communications / teaching every area of this discipline to teenagers with only a passing interest in the subject."

- Kathlene Bowers of UC-Berkeley and Davis, posting on Christianity and Literature listserv (chrislit@homer.acs.bethel.edu)


Nemesis no enigma

I guess I can never quite take Star Trek seriously after Galaxy Quest. When I see the fakey aliens in their plastic goth-lite Gladª-brand garb, I just release endorphins! What can I say? Is it raiment or rainment? I forget. LOL

Star Trek IX ("Insurrection") had to have been the worst Trek ever, with the possible exception of the ludicrous installment V. So the series could only go up from here. X ("Nemesis") is a fun film, has some cool twists, and features a good space battle. The namesake of title, the Picard clone Shinzon, even looks uncannily like Dr. Evil. :) Notwithstanding these plusses, the whole piece sorta pales in comparison with VI and VIII. Just as in Minority Report, the auter (whoever he is these days LOL) pulls back from any really strong sense of catharsis. Data is killed, and everyone is sad, and there is a real sense that his soul is gone, but Brent Spiner gets a few more minutes of screen time all the same as Data's duller twin. In a nutshell, the film tries to be II ("Wrath of Khan") but fails and falls far short. And I don't think it's just for want of James Horner.

A conversation with Dr. DiCarlo (my erstwhile Arabic-learning associate and fellow speculatee of epic poetry, the history of ideas, and comparative religion) brought up the point of good books on Neoplatonism. I said I thought that the short list should just be MacKenna's translation of the Enneads, the Pseudo-Dionysius corpus, and the new I Tatti edition of Ficino's Platonic Theology. Does anyone have any additional suggestions?

This is really one of my research interests. The problem is that some aspects of Neoplatonism are very positive (IÕm blanking on what those exactly are right now LOL) but it has pervasively influenced Christian theology in ways to which many Christians are simply oblivious. The doctrine of the immortality of the soul is but the most obvious of these.

I got my Akkadian books today. Yippee! One is a nice outline of grammar by Caplice, which complements nicely the Huehnergard which I already own. The other is absolutely adorable edition of Gilgamesh. Just looking through this text is like a dream come true. (Okay, okay, I still have yet to take the class. LOL)


A Quote on Zero Tolerance

"I cannot tolerate this age. And I will not. I might have tolerated you and your Catholic church and even joined it, if you had remained true to yourself. But now you're part of the age. You've the same fleas as the dogs you've lain down with. I would have felt at home at Mont-Saint-Michel, the Mount of the Archangel with the flamming sword, or with Richard Coeur de Lion at Acre. They believed in a God who said he came not to bring peace but the sword. Make love not war? I'll take war rather than what this age calls love. Which is a better world, [****] fornicating Happyland USA or a Roman legion under Marcus Aurelius Antonius? Which is worse, to die with T. J. Jackson at Chancellorsville or live with Johnny Carson in Burbank?"

Walker Percy, Lancelot, p. 144.
Arranged Marriages

A friend of my mine was cursing like a good feminist, ranting about advice on an email list for church-administered matchmatching. Yes, cold-calling local reformed churches and asking about the eligibles would be disrespectful and out of place in a modern social context. However, it's very "Genesis" of some book-blindered Reformed nazi to suggest. :)

But the fact remains that there was a time in which people approached marriage from the standpoint of looking to the community to provide the right person. It's so ironic, so "omega," how the pattern has inverted, when you think about it. It used to be that couples were introduced by their elders, got to know each other in public, and then gradually withdrew to from public to private in order to focus on one another as they neared the point of commitment. Now, in our modern Mordor society, we've inverted the model: people meet anonymously, without advice, without references, superficially, as alienated individuals; they date in secret, they gradually get to know each other, when they trust each other enough and have more or less decided to committ, they introduce each other to their family and friends as as de facto spouses. Was this what Francis Fukuyama meant by the "end of History"? LOL



Finished with both papers. Ended up writing/rewriting 40 pages in about as many hours. Neither one turned out that great, but the Vitoria one (I ended up only doing Vitoria, not Ockham) will be a useful springboard for further work. De Indis is actually very profound. Now all I have left in-class Arabic and Wills finals (Wednesday, and the Wednesday after) and two take-home finals (Patents and Family Law) which can be done anytime up to December 20.

And I can't wait to see TTT!!!



I'm slippng towards Gommorah Gomorrah. I just finished my paper on "Pilgrimage and Shrines in Jerusalem to A.D. 1000". That's right, 1000, not 1250. It got too long and I concluded away the Crusades, just like that. Anyways, hardly one of my most successful efforts.

I feel even more existentially bitter n twisted about legal education now. LOL. Honestly, I think it's numbed my ability to composed extended utterance. I am learning things; I just don't feel that confident about anything at all anymore. Especially about haunts me and burdens my heart. Thump. Thump. Not ideas, and certainly not nice reformed girls.
Latin Question

Does anyone actually know how good Tacitus, Seneca, and Lucan really are? I mean, I know what they're like, but to what extent do they reward close study? To what extent has all of this silver age stuff been neglected? Does Vergil really deserve his imperium sine fine in the real of poetry? Is Cicero really the summit of Latin prose? Is Seneca actually the next best thing we have after Euripides?

Just curious!
Third Base, Hell Week

My jurisprudence discussion on justice went well on Monday. My arabic presentation on Iraq went well on Tuesday. "Saddam Hussein is not a king (malikuun) but he has a lot of palaces (qusžr)." Presently working on papers. Have about 16 hours in which to complete the pilgrimage paper (it's going well). Have about 40 hours (by 5 p.m. Friday) to complete the property paper (it's substantially in my notes n noodle). I am such a procrastinatorÑbut my plate is now clear and my life = writing.


And so it begins...

I've been spending the holiday with family, have been having a wonderful time, and must now repair to Columbus to face an extraordinarily gruelling week. Come Friday, I'll be nearly dead. So much to accomplish by then. :)



I find that as I get over I look forward more and more to Thanksgiving, and less and less to Christmas.


What is a Film?

Movies. Popcorn. Pablum. What is a movie if it's just entertainment? Just like pulp fiction. Well, I have news for the masses. Maybe even good news. There are great films just like great books. We don't need to go through films like dime novels or fast food. There are classics to spend the rest of our lives watching and critiquing. I shall blog an annotated list.


Always be ready to give an account

I was at Church today and three people asked me how law school was going and what year I was in (again) and proceeded to congratulate me with expressions such as "You're going to be a lawyer!" "What kind of law do you want to practice?" "You must be very proud to have almost completed it."

I don't know where to begin. Do I say that I never really wanted to practice law (at least not very badly) and that I now haven't the foggiest idea why I even went to law school in the first place? Do I say that if I never practiced a day and never took the bar, I'd be happier than they could ever understand?—like the happiness one feels when one at long last finds a door surmounted by the legend, "Gentlemen"?


Fair-Weather Fan

As some of you may know, the football team of my law school's university—i.e., the social phenomenon I love to hate—has triumphed over That Team Up North (from the Oxford of the Midwest, U of M), is now 13-0, is ranked second in the nation, and is on its way to the national championship game. Campus parties are bound to be completely crazy tonight. Last night this time, there was a solid line of cars backed up from Lane and High all the way up into the Lane and Kenny intersection. I shudder to think what it's like now.... Should probably wander down and observe the sea of humanity.


VDT is the most Odyssean book. Go figure.

The only book which doesn't take place in Narnia at all, per se, you're the story of a voyage to find the end of the world and hopefully the Seven Lost Lords (remember Rhoop!). You contain some of the most unique people and places and beautiful descriptions of the whole series.

Find out which Chronicles of Narnia book you are.

Disclaimer: I only took and posted this test because two nice reformed girls I know did likewise.


PL, II.146-148

To be no more; sad cure; for who would lose
Though full of pain, this intellectual being,
those thoughts that wander through eternity


Fun lines from Aeneid III

et glacialis hiems Aquilonibus asperat undas(265)

attollitque globos flammarum et sidera lambit (574)

monstrum horrendum, informe, ingens, cui lumen ademptum (658).


Faded Glory

People often find it odd that a shy, eccentric, somewhat awkward guy like myself once served as his alma mater's Homcoming King. Well, it was way back in 1999, but a few weeks ago the Collegian published an article which quotes me and another article which describes me. The picture in the first article is of a younger version of me holding the Aeneid on the field of battle.


That's exactly how I feel too.

Kristen has composed a very expressive rant about what's wrong with the homeschooling culture.


Elves and Wizards

Although I should have spent more time this weekend working, I escaped for quite a few hours into the week's new offerings. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is actually quite a bit better than its predecesor, Philosopher's Stone. Better effects, better cinematography, and a delicious Kenneth Branagh. (The spider sequences, however, are not for small children.) The extended edition of Fellowship of the Ring is simply superb. The additional footage goes a long way towards addressing any residual complaint that the theatrical release was a little pinched down. Sure, there's still no Tom Bombadil, but we do see midges, mithril, and lots of short shots which fill out the picture. Hobbiton and Lorien are much better characterized. Jackson's reinterpretation of Aragorn is more developed. I have to say that, to every one of the extra additions, I thought Jackson was right on.


C. S. Lewis on Headship

But I dare not mention this Pagan sacrament without turning aside to guard against any danger of confusing it with an incomparably higher mystery. As nature crowns man in that brief action, now the Christian law has crowned him in the permanent relationship of marriage, bestowing—or shall I say, inflicting?—a certain “headship” upon him. This is a very different coronation. And as we could easily take the natural mystery too seriously, so we might take the Christian mystery not seriously enough. Christian writers (notably Milton) have sometimes spoken of the husband’s headship with a complacency to make the blood run cold. We must go back to our Bibles. The husband is the head of the wife just in so far as he is to her what Christ is to the Church. He is to love her as Christ loved the Church—read on—and give his life for her (Eph. V, 25). This headship, then, is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion; whose wife receives most and gives least, is most unworthy of him, is—in her own mere nature—least loveable. For the Church has no beauty but what the Bride-groom gives her; he does not find, but makes her lovely. The chrism of this terrible coronation is to be seen not in the joys of any man’s marriage but in its sorrows. In the sickness and sufferings of a good wife or the faults of a bad one, in his unwearying (never paraded) care or in his inexhaustible forgiveness: forgiveness, not acquiescence. As Christ sees in the flawed, proud, fanatical or lukewarm Church on earth that bride who will one day be without spot or wrinkle, and labours to produce the latter, so the husband whose headship is Christ-like (and he is allowed no other sort) never despairs. He is a king Cophetua who after twenty hears still hopes that the beggar-girl will one day learn to speak the truth and wash behind her ears.

To say this is not to say that there is any virtue or wisdom in making a marriage that involves such misery. There is no wisdom or virtue in seeking unnecessary martyrdom or deliberately courting persecution; yet, as it is, none the less, the persecuted or martyred Christian in whom the pattern of the Master is most unambiguously realized. So in these terrible marriages, once they have come about, the “headship” of the husband, if only he can sustain it, is most Christ-like.

The sternest feminist need not grudge my sex the crown offered it either in the Pagan or in the Christian mystery. For the one is of paper and the other of thorns. The real danger is not that husbands may grasp the latter too eagerly; but that they will allow or compel their wives to usurp it.

The Four Loves, p. 105-106.
Oh, Tully, you almost persaude me to be a Christian...!

Est quidem vera lex recta ratio naturae congruens, diffusa in omnes, constans, sempiterna, quae vocet ad officium iubendo, vetando a fraude deterreat; quae tamen neque probos frustra iubet aut vetat nec improbos iubendo aut vetando movet. Huic legi nec obrogari fas est neque derogari ex hac aliquid licet neque tota abrogari potest, nec vero aut per senatum aut per populum solvi hac lege possumus, neque est quaerendus explantor aut interpres eius alius, nec erit alia lex Romae, alia Athenis, alia nunc alia posthac, sed et omnes gentes et omni tempore una lex et sempiterna et immutabilis continebit, unusque erit communis quasi magister et imperator omnium deus, ille legis huius inventor, discepator, lator; cui qui non parabit, ipse se fugiet ac naturam hominis aspernatus hoc ipso luet maximas poenas, etiamsi cetera supplicia, quae putantur, effugerit. (De Re Pub., III.xxii.33.)


Fear leads to pain. Pain leads to . . . suffering . . .

Thank you to everyone who's been posting lately and making my blog a forum de facto. I've been catching three-hour naps here and there trying to get through everything I have to do before the end of the semester. This includes perfecting my knowledge of the Arabic verb, coming to terms with the philosophical basis of private property, and finding a thesis in the midst of religious strife in Filastin.

Hopefully, I don't have a stroke and damage my second-favorite organ. If I do, I want my premodern books to go to the members of the Fairfield Society at Hillsdale College. It is enough. Now I think I can look forward to lots of little Dan Wileys running around. (Congratulations, Akhiiy!)

I did get two Arabic-English philosophical texts in the mail the other day (along with Finnis and De Re Publica), so I can start to work on the transmission of Aristotle's ideas and the roots of secularism. It's either that or survey cloud-castles. :)


Great Books

I've counted all of the books I own and am certain I want to keep. Comes out to 816. Most of the Recon theology menu, a fair chunk of English literature, lots and lots of Greek and Latin commentaries, all the books for Hebrew and Sanskrit, dozens of loathed law texts, a growing philosophy shelf, and a few books on people like Richard Wagner or Michelangelo Antonioni. Add about 200+ other books which I have in boxes awaiting disposal, and my "library" breaks that magic "grand" number.


Lost Power

Power blew out in Shady Hill Estates at about 9:00 p.m. EST. Whole subdivision is out. Before this, there were already 23,000 customers in the Columbus area without power. Severe local storms. 70 mph winds. 1/4 inch hail. Larger hail downtown. Burning candles. :( Had hoped to study. Well, at least the internet works. It's nice to have a battery. :)


Wiley’s Motorcycle Tour of the Symphonic Canon.

The foundation is Beethoven. Oh, yes, do dip into Mozart’s 38th ( “Prague” ), 40th, and 41st ( “Jupiter” ), but get off the bike at the Third of Beethoven, his Eroica, his tribute to the memory of a great man, Bonaparte, the Caesar of Modern Europe and the liberator-revealed-as-tyrant who lost the faith of his musical Virgil by laying siege to Vienna. Look, in the mind’s eye, at the structure of the thing. Listen for the deep and measureless sorrow in the funeral march. But then go on and revel in the Olympian power of his Fifth, especially in the recapitulation of the first movement and in the slow movement. Drink at least one slow movement of Beethoven per week, for the rest of your life. This will keep you young, and may remind you of the meaning of beauty, the passing of life, and the poetry of friendship, as it did Elgar in Enigma Variation No. 12. Anyways, the “Pastoral, his Sixth, is in a class all by itself, but do go on and make sure to hit the Seventh, especially its supremely plangent slow movement,. Wagner called the whole thing “the Apotheosis of the Dance.” The real apotheosis of the dance, however, comes in in the last movement of the Ninth, long after the brutal, withering assault of the opening sonata-allegro movement, when the march of Strife is blown away by the tide of the army of Love, and the orchestral erupts into a grand fugue on the heels of a tenor’s proclamation—a fugue unmatched in all of the works of Beethoven for its power, energy, and contrapuntal invention.

Schubert is the next stop. The Unfinished (No. 8) is the practically the only work of its sort played. It is really Beethovenian in power and scope, but touched with the earnest lyricism of which Schubert was such an immediate child. No. 9 (“The Great”) is a greater piece of architecture; if it lacks the immediate power of the Unfinished, it makes up for this in sheer invention, especially in the first movement.

Although he wrote precious few pure symphonies, I do recommend sampling Berlioz. He writes really programmatic works, especially the viola concerto/symphony/four-movement tone-poem after Byron’s “Harold in Italy.” There is always Symphonie Fantastique! Also see his grand opera, Les Troyens. As with Debussy, the symphonic opera would, for this Frenchman, be his largest canvas for the orchestral palate and such themes as it makes, with imagination, possible.

The true heir of Beethoven is really Wagner, but that’s complicated, and controversial. Wagner pushes symphonic development of themes to their apogees. He issues in the irreproducible experiment of Debussy, and in the dissolution of Western Music in the chaos of the Great War and what came of it.

The other heirs of Beethoven are Anton Bruckner and Johannes Brahms. Bruckner was a lonely old man who was always asking adolescent girls to marry him. He was also a devout Catholic organist with a profound grasp of symphonic architecture. His work is very powerful. Massive. Indomitable. Each symphony is 60+ min. long. He is very Wagnerian in tone, but very traditional in organization and dominated by the brass chorale.

Brahms is the neo-classical opponent of Bruckner. His symphonies are reserved, lucid, economical. They sound so familiar because, with Tschaikovsky, his style has become the canonical language of “classical music.” Brahms is the Shakespeare of the Austrian-German symphonic tradition, if you will. Listen to the First, in its journey from bitter despair to hopeful expectation over forty minutes. Listen to the second movement of the Second—one of the most endearing ever hit upon. Listen to the slow yearning call of the opening of the Fourth. For my money, the Fourth Symphony of Johannes Brahms is probably the finest document to come down to us from all of music. The nobility of the passagalia which is the finale is too much for human ears to bear.

Having struck out this far, I must conclude my initial pass by pointing out the last, next, and only great symphonists of our century: Mahler and Sibelius. Mahler is several universes of fire and ocean and burning desert sand. Sibelius is the single world of the North: dark, mysterious, brooding savage dreams, filled with an icy intensity such as could be born only of the artist possessed absolutely of the genius of the ethos of his race.

Mahler is really my god and my devil. (You may understand what I mean, if you recall your Lewis.) His symphonies are not all great, but there is a grand yearning in his works born of the fusion of the tragic vision of Wagner fused with the brass hymns of Bruckner. Mahler is the last romantic visionary in music, and the grandeur of his visions tops all others. His creations are longest, but also full of the most expansive architecture. Listen to the invention and the brooding power of the First. Listen to the way in which the grim funeral march which opens the Second resolves itself in the orgiastic choral climax of the finale. The Fifth travels from an even more shattering funeral march to a happy rondo, while the Seventh is largely optimistic, with a staggering sonata-allegro primo and a farcical finale. In the Sixth, however, we see mostly clearly the grand, tragic vision of the man: it is as if everything which Nietzsche said about Greek tragedy has come down from Solon’s tongue into purely emotive tones of exultant despair. The opening is a grim march, but against this he sets a delicate countersubject like the shadow of the eternal feminine. The slow movement is full of sublime suffering, if you will; simple, but of staggering depth. The finale is simply the most powerful expression of tragic grandeur ever written for orchestra—ever—period. I cannot describe it for you. You have to experience it for yourself. If it does, by some chance, beset your psyche with eros for something more of its infinite vision, dip into Das Leid von der Erde. It would have been his ninth, but became a symphonic song-cycle instead.

Sibelius is very different. He is the angel who is almost my fellow-heir. He is classicism, redivinus, but with a twist. He is the man who knows who he, what he loves, and where he is going. His symphonies are not naïve, but do not usually try to become more than the pure, organic expressions of classical sensibilies made form in a unique sound-world of dense orchestral textures and long pedal points. The greater half of his output was absolute, rather than really programmatic, even the tone-poems (of which Taipola is the last and grandest). The Seventh is his greatest, in which he telescopes traditional four-movement symphonic form into an incredible creation of tremendous range and invention. The Sixth is his purest creation, like a glass of clear water, transcendent in its simplicity, offered at a time when atonalism was sweeping the West. The Fifth is probably his most powerful work, especially in the finale, as exultation becomes almost objective, but the Fourth is really the one which you will want to listen to over and over again and wonder at—from the austere distant timbre of the first movement to the brooding, fragmentary slow movement, to the happy-go-lucky jingle of the finale.


More profound lines

E lo spirito mio, che già cotanto
  tempo era stato ch'a la sua presenza
  non era di stupor, tremando, affranto,
sanza de li occhi aver più conoscenza,
  per occulta virtù che da lei mosse,
  d'antico amor sentì la gran potenza.
Tosto che ne la vista mi percosse
  l'alta virtù che già m'avea trafitto
  prima ch'io fuor di püerizia fosse,
volsimi a la sinistra col respitto
  col quale il fantolin corre a la mamma
  quando ha paura o quando elli è afflitto,
per dicere a Virgilio: 'Men che dramma
  di sangue m'è rimaso che non tremi:
  conosco i segni de l'antica fiamma'.
Ma Virgilio n'avea lasciati scemi
  di sé, Virgilio dolcissimo patre,
  Virgilio a cui per mia salute die'mi;
né quantunque perdeo l'antica matre,
  valse a le guance nette di rugiada
  che, lagrimando, non tornasser atre.
«Dante, perché Virgilio se ne vada,
  non pianger anco, non piangere ancora;
  ché pianger ti conven per altra spada».

(Purgatorio, XXX.32-57).

This reminds me, too, that Dante is probably the greatest of Poets. Only Vergil and Milton really come close. Tasso is great in his own way, but perhaps like Statius to Vergil.
Richard Weaver on the "Metaphysical Dream"

Every man participating in his culture has three levels of conscious reflection: his specific ideas about things, his general beliefs or convictions, and his metaphysical dream of the world.

The first of these are the thoughts he employs in the activity of daily living; they direct his disposition of immediate matters and, so, constitute his worldliness. One can exist on this level alone for limited periods, although pure worldliness must eventually bring disharmony and conflict.

Above this lies his body of beliefs, some of which may be heritages simply, but others of which he will have acquired in the ordinary course of his reflection. Even the simplest souls define a few rudimentary conceptions about the world, which they repeatedly apply as choices present themselves. These, too, rest on something more general.

Surmounting all is an intuitive feelin about the immanent nature of reality, and this is the sanction to which both ideas and beliefs are ultimately referred for verification. Without the metaphysical dream it is impossible to think of men living together harmoniously over an extent of time. The dream carries with it an evaluation, which is the bond of spiritual community.

When we affirm that philosophy begins with wonder, we are affirming in effect that sentiment is anterior to reason. We do not undertake to reason about anything until we have been drawn to it by an affective interest. In the cultural life of man, therefore, the fact of paramount importance about anyone is his attitude towards the world. How frequently it is brought to our attention that nothing good can be done if the will is wrong! Reason alone fails to justice itself. Not without cause has the devil been called the prince of lawyers, and not by accident are Shakespeare's villains good reasoners. If the disposition is wrong, reason increases maleficence; if it is right, reason orders and furthers the good. We have no authority to argue anything of a social or political nature unless we approve some aspects of the existing world. The position is arbitrary in the sense that there is a proposition behind which there stands no prior. We begin our other affirmations after a categorical statement that life and world are to be cherished.

(From Ideas Have Consequences (1948), p. 18.)
Winter Comes to Nargothrond

The summer slowly     in the sad forest
waned and faded.     In the west arose
winds that wandered     over warring seas.
Leaves were loosened     from labouring boughs:
fallow-gold they fell,     and the feet buried
of trees standing     tall and naked,
rustling restlessly     down roofless aisles,
shifting and drifting.
                                The shining vesel
of the sailing moon     with slender mast,
with shrouds shapen     of shimmering flame,
uprose ruddy     on the rim of Evening
by the misty wharves     on the margin of the world.
With winding horns     winter hunted
in the weeping woods,     wild and ruthless;
sleet came slashing,     and slanting hail
from glowering heaven     grey and sunless,
whistling whiplash     whirled by tempest.
The floods were freed     and fallow waters
sweeping seaward,     swollen, angry,
filled with flotsam,     foaming, turbid,
passed in tulmult.     The tempest died.
Frost descended     from far mountains
steel-cold and still.     Stony-glinting
icehung evening     was opened wide,
a dome of crystal     over deep silence,
over windless wastes     and woods standing
as frozen phantoms     under flickering stars.
How Real Death Is

Of course Death is universal and more or less inevitable. And of course it's not the end of the story (whether for glory or perdition). But being of it abruptly is hard.

Anyways, I was reminded of the extreme contingency of the human experience yesterday. Found a note in my mail slot at the law school. Memo from Dean. Wanted to inform us all that the Registrar had suddenly died on Wednesday. Heart attack. I was pretty shocked. I had sat across a desk from her just 10 days ago for my 3L exit interview. Then I got home and was reading a Hillsdale Collegian article and learnt that the father of the two Anderson sisters I knew in school (one of whom a good friend of mine married) died suddenly at the end of September. pancreatic cancer—at only 48.


Nice Reformed Girls

This topic has assumed mythological dimensions both among some of my friends. The phrase started out either (1) in Niedfeldt ("need-to-be-felt") dormitory at Hillsdale College (specifically in Room 205) or (2) in conversations with my brother Daniel (who, unlike me, has actually dated a five-point Calvinist). Anyways, the ideal as originally formulated by myself with friends primarily involved theological compatibility (the "Reformed" part) combined with smiling wholesomeness well-suited to motherhood (the "Nice" part). In this version, the basic ideal is the girl who can honestly and actually understand the introverted, awkward (but genuinely nice) Reformed boy.

Subsequent redactions of the concept have added a whole cornicopia of secondary characteristics: intellectual capacity, organizational skills, great legs, heroic temper, and esthetic sensibilities. Important models for this extended ideal were Andromache (Iliad), Britomart (Faerie Queene), Jane Austen heroines, Brunhilde (Der Ring), Haydee (Count of Monte Cristo), and Ellen (Love in the Ruins). However, as this ideal has developed, it may have become less about finding some gracious Calvinist-minded young woman and more about articulating my older adolescent idolatry of the ideal woman, the eternal-feminine. Das Ewig-Weibliche / Zeiht uns hinan.

I guess I still want both. Is that too much to ask? Perhaps it is. Perhaps this necessitates a broader theory (?) of eros and philia and agape. Does the activity of loving change people, and how does that affect men and women, and does it affect them differently?


The End of Divided Government?

I must say that I'm both very pleased and a bit surprised by the election results. This really is yet another new thing in America's political history. Just compare with 1994. Several premonitions, though: (1) Bush must deliver now, in the next two years; (2) while the effect of McCain-Feingold is still unclear, this election represents the emergence of the midterm election not merely as a negative implicit referendum on the sitting president, but as a positive campaign in search of legitimacy.


Increasing my circulation

Dear Family, Friends, Fiends, and Philoi:

I mean to write more often to all of you, but I tend to be a very poor correspondent. The road to alienation is paved with noble sentiments. I write to less than half of you half as often as you deserve, etc. Email, nice as it is, tends to make one only an intellectually fat consumer of junk food. The internet, alas, no less than industrialization itself, has failed to change human nature for the better, and just gives us some new social habits for the worse. But, hey, I’m not writing to you—I’m starting to talk about you in my worst moralistic pseudo-philosophical vein. LOL, as we say out here in cyberspace. I need to move on to the real point of this e-‘pistle. So thousands of other intelligent web-savvy, right-wing, libertarian/conservative Christian gen-xers, I have started my own weblog (“blog”). Okay, so the name is a little long! (If you don’t know what the title refers to, I invite you to look up “dante inferno italian” at google.com.)


It’s actually been in operation for some period of time now (like, uh… 6 months?). There’s even a comments section (many thanks to a beautiful webmistress), so you can resound on my soundings. Non canimus surdis, respondent omnia siluae. Plus you can read in the (disturbing) archives and comment on old posts too.

Anyway, the point of the blog is to memorialize my thoughts, reflections, snippets of academic work, favorite lines, putative profundities, etc. This site is my soapbox, public restroom wall, and possibly my credo. Most of the content is personal only insofar as the intellectual and spiritual experience of being human in law school specifically and bourgeois consumer culture generally is necessarily and inescapably personal. Hopefully, this format suits me better than my old and now defunct site (www.ideashaveconsequences.net).

Eventually, once I learn more about how to make HTML actually do stuff for me, I hope to include sidebars of links to other resources, including important books or journal articles, other blogs, and digital images of nice reformed girls. (Okay, just kidding about the last part. LOL.)

I hope this helps in part to alleviate our mutual communication breakdown. All the same, I’ll try to write more to all of you individually. For the moment, I can only wish that you take care and keep the faith.

Provocatively yours,

Joshua N. Wiley


Ownership and Natural Law

Theme: Role of the concept of right to or ownership over real property in late medieval natural law theory; comparison with early modern natural rights theory and contemporary natural rights theory.

I. Prologue: relevance of theme.
 A. Political and legal shifts since 1900.
  1. Decline of property rights.
   a. Communist revolutions.
   b. Fascism.
   c. Changes in America.
    i. Sixteenth Amendment.
    ii. New Deal.
  2. Rise of the “totalitarian” state.
   a. Russia.
   b. Germany.
   c. America.
    i. New Deal
    ii. Warren Court.
    iii. Federalist revival.
  2. Emphasis on personal rights or liberties as preferred freedoms.
 B. Larger socio-economic trends.
  1. Industrialization.
  2. Decline of agriculture.
  3. Rise of intellectual “property.”
  4. Growth of financial markets.
  5. Social security: end of whole-life dependence on family.
  6. Mass consumer culture: end of individual/family dependence on local socio-economic community.
  7. Corporate culture: quasi-democratic separation of ownership and control.
  8. Suburbanization: conversion of real estate from productive to consumptive use.
 C. Suggested uses of natural law/natural rights arguments.
  1. Limited government?
  2. Community of goods/women?
  3. Free markets?
  4. Agrarianism?

II. Background to theme.
 A. Before Rome.
  1. Old Testament.
   a. Abraham in Canaan: buys land, respects locals.
   b. Israelites in Canaan: divine command for conquest; inalienable title per stirpes.
  2. Greece?
 B. Roman law.
  1. Ius gentium categorically.
  2. Cicero’s claims in De Legibus about the nature of law.
  3. Property rights under ius gentium and ius civile.
 C. Augustine.
  1. Skeptical of natural justice in practice. De Civ. Dei, V.
  2. Teaches passive submission to ius civile. De Civ. Dei, XIX.
  3. Admiration for Roman system?
 D. Aquinas.
  1. Natural law as one of four species of law.
  2. Ownership or property right grounded in natural law.
  3. Ownership or property right conditioned by positive law.
 E. Finnis.
  1. Secular natural law.
  2. Role of property right in his system.
  3. Limits of property right.

III. Explication of theme.
 A. Ecclesiastical property debates of late middle ages.
  1. Radical Franciscan position.
   a. Christ and apostles didn’t hold ownership of things.
   b. Christians don’t need ownership of things to fulfill mission in world (anachronistic parallel: “fully realize selves”?).
   c. Franciscans can and should renounce ownership of things in order to achieve true spiritual liberty.
  2. Radical Augustinian position represented by Giles of Rome in De Ecclesiastica Potestate.
   a. Neoplatonic hierarchical cosmology/sociology inherited from Pseudo-Dionysius: subjection of higher to lower.
   b. The spiritual power (Pope in Church) holds fullness of power by virtue of Christ’s grant of the “keys” to Peter.
   c. Kings and ordinary people hold power/ownership derivatively of spiritual power.
   d. The spiritual power may intervene in temporal matters with impunity.
   e. The rule of kings and princes, and the ownership of property, is at the sufferance and acquiescence of the spiritual power.
   f. General comparison with Augustine.
  3. Moderate Dominican position represented by John of Paris in De Potestate Regia et Papali.
   a. No grant of temporal authority in gift of keys to Peter.
   b. Royal power established independently of intervening spiritual power, either by direct divine institution or by consent of people, to promote the common good.
   c. Royal and papal power alike subject to deposition by people/whole Church if such power is incompatible with the common good.
   d. General comparison with Aquinas.
   e. Comparison with Marsilius of Padua.

Note: Analysis of the right of ownership in Ockham and Vitoria is to be the heart of this paper. I have yet to complete my “deep” read of both thinkers, and so these §§ of the paper are not outlined. The thought of Ockham in particular is not only complex, but nested in a labyrinth of arguments and counter-arguments.

 B. William of Ockham’s contribution.
 C. Further development by Francisco de Vitoria.

On one level, Ockham may be read as limiting both royal and papal power Figuring prominently in this connection are concepts of ius and dominium, and objective and subjective rights. Some credit Ockham with formulating dominium or ownership as a subjective right or faculty, as a potestas. For others, he only amplifies an antecedent Franciscan strand. The upshot seems to be that Ockham describes a ius naturale, power, or faculty, manifested in ownership, which resides in free men and which functions to limit the dominium of kings and other men.

Vitoria advances similar arguments altogether outside of the ecclesiastical property problem and further develops the idea of dominium as the subjective right to ownership which becomes the basis for his positions in De Indis against the confiscation of American Indian territory by the Spanish crown. Similar threads are developed in his commentaries on Aquinas on the issues of murder, theft, and restitution.
It is my intent to compare both Ockham and Vitoria, on ownership of property, to at least Grotius and Rawls, and probably also Locke in the fourth part of the paper.

Sources: The more important of Ockham’s political works are translated in two volumes of selections from Cambridge. I also have his five-volume Opera Politica set (in Latin). De Indis is Vitoria’s most famous work; it is available with other selections in several editions. I shall also rely upon a body of secondary studies treating Aquinas, Ockham, Vitoria, and the later Salamancans. Most of important of these are: Annabel S. Brett, Liberty, Right, and Nature: Individual rights in later scholastic thought (Cambridge, 1997); Brian Tierney, The Idea of Natural Rights: Studies on Natural Rights, Natural Law, and Church Law: 1150-1625 (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1997).

 D. Refinements by Vitoria’s successors at Salamanca.
  1. De Soto.
  2. Vasquez.
  3. Suarez.
 E. Comparison with Bodin.
  1. Vitoria limits sovereignty by people’s right to ownership of land in De Indis.
  2. Bodin limits sovereignty of monarch by property right of father.

IV. Response to theme.
 A. Early modern natural rights theory.
  1. Grotius.
  2. Locke.
 B. Contemporary natural rights theory.
  1. Rawls.

V. Conclusion to theme.
 Critique of Herbert Spencer? Lochner? New Deal Jurisprudence?


Debating about debating about what I really think and feel

I've been wondering if I should start a blog conversation about legal education, the American legal system, Democracy, the destiny of America, Roma aeterna, 9/11, the cult of self-realization, and so forth. Any advice?


An Arabic "Loeb"

Brigham Young University Press offers a new series of Arabic-English dual-language parallel-text editions. Just like the I Tatti Renaissance Library or Loeb Classical Library, but for Arabic philosophical works. I think I'll get the Decisive Treatise of Ibn Rushd (Averroes) and work through it at my convenience.

"I am writing to confirm that Mr. Joshua N. Wiley is authorized (and very welcome) to register for my class NELC 635.01 (call #112943)."

I'm so very excited. I've registered for both Akkadian grammar I and Arabic grammar I for next quarter. This is like a dream come true. If the Spring quarter schedule works out too, I'll graduate with a J.D. (which I don't really want) and a healthy (redeeming?) background in Semitic languages. Lord willing, 30 quarter credit-hours of Arabic and 10 of Akkadian. This should give me a strong background for Hebrew at some point in the future. And then there are always mesopotamian texts. :)


More books!

Went to the OSU library sale last week on its last day. Found a wonderful set of A.J. Carlyle's History of Medieval Political Theory (6 vols., 1928) for $10. This is a wonderful resource if slightly dated resource which I've used for several Dr. Moye papers, for a Shtromas paper, and now for my present term paper on ius et dominium in the late Middle Ages and in the New Deal.


A few lines

te, dea, te fugiunt venti, te nubila caeli (De Re. Nat., I.6)

an tenebras Orci visat vastasque lacunas (ibid., I.115)

non si terra mari miscebitur et mare caelo (ibid., III.842)


What do they teach them in these schools?

Increasingly, I realize that I've been screwed by a very superficial, procedural, and sophistical legal education system. We should be sitting around reading Montesquieu and Blackstone and Justinian. Roman law, which is still taught I believe, in many English programs, is completely ignored by our faculty.

Another reason to hate law school, I guess.
Tallis' Spem in alium is really something marvellous. I think that it and Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610 are probably my favorites from that period. Something Augustinian about the scale.
I met a guy at Barley's Friday evening with the surname of Mastroianni. I asked if he was related to Marcello Mastroianni, the lately living symbol of existentialized Latin manhood. He claimed to be a second cousin. It may have been just me, but they looked a little similar even. Anyways, this guy got really excited and lamented the fact that no one these days knows who Marcello was.
Remember the scene in La Dolce Vita when Marcello asks his father why they never talk? Why is it like that too often when I see old friends? Why must true communication depend on so many silly accidents?


Great Books

At the urging of Dr. DeCarlo I went to SBX today to peruse a special book sale. I arrived and found that the collection of a (deceased?) classics prof was being liquidated. Wandered around picking up volumes, muttering jayida jiddan! I finally bought a pile of volumes for $80:

Georges Roux, Ancient Iraq, (Penguin)
D. G. Lyon, Beginner's Assyrian (reprinted)
Arthur A. MacDonell, A Vedic Grammar for Students, (Oxford)
Arthur A. MacDonell, A Vedic Reader for Students, (Oxford) (I also own his big Sanskrit Dictionary)
J.S. Rusten, Thucydides: Peloponnesian War, Book II (Cambridge commentary)
R.L. Hunter, Apollonius of Rhodes: Argonautica, Book III(Cambridge commentary)
Gordon Kirkwood, Selections from Pindar (American Philological Association) (intro, text, commentary)
David West, The Imagery and Poetry of Lucretius (Oklahoma)
John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding(Oxford ed.) Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (Routledge std. German-English ed.)
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (Prentice-Hall, 3rd ed.)

Will use the Classics stuff. Want to use the Vedic stuff, someday. Should read Wittgenstein so I can understand Ryan Oprea.



Break is ending. Nothing really accomplished, except creating a huge mess in my flat and brushing up on arabiyya. I played a computer game for several hours. And took my fellow alumnus Matt Hisrich to see a raunchy Spanish film (which confused him), and allowed him to watch me drink Tetley's on tap (which amused him). And read a little Locke. And stayed up until after 4:00 a.m. twice doing arabiyya. Does that count?

I can start reading parts of the Qur'an now. It's really not at all hard. Sortalike Homer was at first. On the other hand, it's really more fun to talk to Dr. Dicarlo about his theories of what the Prophet was really up to. Dr. Dicarlo is pretty amazing. No, he's not the prof, but actually my fellow student in 104. He already has a B.A. and an M.A. in classics, a B.S. in chemistry, doctorates in chiropracty and osteopathy, and wants to go to medical school in Damascus. Of course, what he really wants to do is write a thesis arguing that heretical Christian monks influenced the Prophet's devotional technique and ultimately his whole theology.

I need to come to terms with Vitoria and Ockham, not to mention Grotius. This paper will either make or break me. Probably a little of both. Hitherto, I've been more or less like anti-transubstantiational, anti-purgatory Protestant with boundless admiration for the sweeping theocratic claims of the Papacy. (As in, Boniface VIII was hero and tragic figure, not bad guy.) Now I'm realizing that there are good arguments on both sides.

This is why Nice Reformed Boys shouldn't go to law school. They'll learn to be involuntary agnostics as to matters conceptual and factual (which is a huge turn-off to Nice Reformed Girls :( ) or else narrowly clever sophists more interested in provocation than reflection (which is possibly worse).

And I have so much email to write to old friends and new enemies. :(


Books, book, books

I keep collecting. Made some exciting recent purchases. Basic Cambridge political thought series volumes of Bodin, Ockham, and Vitoria. (For a paper.)

Loebs of Pindar. (So I can read his little corpus in translation and remind myself that I must master lyric if I'm ever to achieve a truly graceful prose style.)

Have also started to collect Aeneid commentaries. (Vergil's is such a central work, the central work, I am tempted to say, for literary purposes.) Now have V, VIII, IX, and XI. (XII is coming out soon!) Have read I-VI with the aid of the Pharr edition (in bars and dance clubs, at that, LOL).

Am reorganizing my books into three categories: (1) use and display; (2) not useful, but keep; (3) not useful, sell or discard. The last category should total at least 10%.


Breaking the waves...

1. No law classes this week. That doesn't mean I'm not *really* busy.
2. Arabic is going better. Still stammer in conversation, but am rebuilding vocab.
3. Ockham sits like patience on a monument waiting for my eager attention.
4. A markupable copy of Vitoria is in the mail.
5. There's a microbrewery in Columbus that has an exceptional "Russian Imperial Stout. As one of the Iron Chef judges says, "It tastes so good, I want to cry!" I say: "With beer like this, who needs women?" LOL.


Less than fourteen points.

1. My Arabic is rusty. La aarafu.
2. My sleep patterns are totally inverted now.
3. I need to outline a term paper which still requires too much initial research.
4. Patents is of cool intellectual interest. In other words, *almost* boring.
5. Family law continues to be a stimulating class. We did Roe and Griswold today.
6. Hobbes and Locke don't apply outside the insular context of the Blessed Isle. The U.S. is a sui generis political-religious order. 7. Saranac's Black Forest is the best adult beverage sold off the slopes of Mt. Olympus.
8. Godfather isn't the best film ever made. (That would be Rules of the Game, Vertigo, or L'Avventura.) But it is awfully good on a scratched library DVD.
9. Lucía y el Sexo is worth seeing, but wait for R-rated DVD version. A little too soft-core (even for me), but has some amazingly beautiful existential moments.
10. There are good used book bargains in Columbus. Recent finds include: Summa Theologica, II, in Latin ($6, was rare); Gransden's Cambridge commentary on Aeneid VIII ($4, was $23); T. M. Knox's edition of Hegel's Philosophy of Right ($5, was $20-30).
11. I've come to the realization that it is necessary to come to terms with the Moderns, and with all of the Moderns. Lady, were I to go where my heart wills, even now would I be walking in Firenze with Dante, speaking of Avveroes, Aquinas, and Vergil. But there can be no victory for our side without facing their new labyrinth and the great Machine.
12. I'm in canto XVI of Tasso now. Still surprised by his pervasive use of Vergil and his singular anticipation of Milton. Want to read Camoes next.


Preliminary Middle East Conflict Paper Topic

Some of the central issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict center around access of Jews, Christians, and Muslims to the religious shrines and holy places, and ultimately implicate the status of Jerusalem itself, viz., whether as Holy City, prize of conquest, or neutral corpus separatum. Inasmuch as rights of pilgrimage and the very concept of such “sacred space” are patently anachronistic to modern international law, I wish to examine and compare the development and usage of some of these norms.

Greek law, within the context of Panhellenism, developed norms governing access to religious sites by members of competing poleis. The greatest examples of this are perhaps the festival of Zeus at Olympia or the Oracle at Delphi, which seem to have achieved something like a corpus separatum status. (Further research into Roman and Mesopotamian law may reveal further examples of parallel phenomena.)

Within the order of Islamic civilization, a similar problem may be seen with respect to the access of the Faithful, in their several striving sects, from many parts of the empire, to the holy places of Mecca and Medina. Indeed, given that the emphasis on pilgrimage comes much later in Christian thought, one is tempted to wonder to what degree the whole Christian idea of pilgrimage (which, in its definite expression, comes much later) was conditioned by the prior Islamic experience. Certainly, how the Muslims customarily regarded norms of religious access to Mecca, Medina, and Al-Quds conditioned their own response to the Crusades, and ultimately to the modern Zionist crusade.

Through the Crusades and their aftermath (which is, ultimately, colonialism itself), Roman Christianity developed a set of legal norms governing pilgrimage (including the “Peace” and “Truce of God”) and justifying expeditions to make the Levant safe for pilgrimage, which ultimately led to the establishment of the short-lived kingdom of Jerusalem. (I would like to compare and contrast this with any Byzantine norms regarding the holy places and pilgrimage, which I suspect were pretty non-existent.)

Two leading examples of corpora separata in the modern world are Vatican City and Washington D.C. In both instances, the corpora were instituted to free the administration of a precinct of wider religious or civil-religious significance from the influence of the “host” State. Both D.C. and the Vatican represent examples of how a corpus separatum regime may be used to administer a precinct of great symbolic significance, while assuring its access to pilgrims and tourists.

Comparison with norms used by related cultures to govern pilgrimage and holy places, and to preserve their neutrality in the face of traditional territorially-defined political conflict, helps us to understand a key part of the background of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Preliminary Jurisprudence Paper Topic

The following represents my basic concept for a paper topic. It is admittedly wide-ranging in time, but I believe that it can be focused topically in a very apt manner. I intend to refine and restate this concept further over the next few days, leading to a final paper topic statement by this Monday.

I intend to treat of the idea of the right to property (i.e., as estate) as (1) an immutable right under natural law, as (2) a creature of social contract, and as (3) a creature of positive law, together with various jurisprudential implications of these three traditions. Conceptually and doctrinally, my material will be roughly threefold: (1) property as a natural right in a late medieval and/or “silver age” Scholastic philosopher (Ockham, Vitoria, Suarez?); (2) property as a natural right in early modern social contract theory (Grotius and/or Locke); (3) property as a fundamental right (or not) in Welfare State legal philosophy (Lochner, New Deal, Rawls). I expect to distinguish these three jurisprudential approaches are more or less representative of (1) medieval Christendom, (2) political liberalism, and (3) socialism. I expect to apply this material to two historical problems: (A) late-medieval debates on ecclesiastical property (i.e., on whether the Church necessarily requires jurisdiction over property in order to realize its mission in the world) and (B) twentieth-century debates over substantive due process (i.e., over whether property rights are necessarily part of those rights and liberties guaranteed under the Amendments to the U.S. Constitution). I believe that there is a hitherto overlooked parallel between problems (A) and (B) inasmuch as the liberties secured by the medieval Western Church (e.g., as set forth in the opening §§ of the Magna Carta) have served, historically, as prototype for those liberties acquired by individuals over that long liberal march of progress. See Harold Berman, Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition. I expect to conclude with very pointed criticisms of the Court-packing crisis of 1937, from the standpoints of traditions (1) and (2), but also with a renewed appreciation for the limitations of traditions (1) and (2), as cogent jurisprudential and viable philosophical alternatives for postmodern man, in the face of starkly changing social conditions.

I expect that this research will be practically helpful inasmuch as it should directly inform my understanding of Rawls’ two principles of justice and indirectly contribute to my understanding of Aristotle’s conception of justice as set forth in Nicommachean Ethics, V.


Annoyance at not being able to develop intellectually at all?

LOL. A friend mentioned that and it sounded too familiar. I hate the “at all” part. It really stings! I walk around the law school killing time right before classes reading Vergil or looking at a real book, and people ask me if I’m reading that for “fun.” Or, worse yet, being caught in a bar on Friday night curled up with some great book and a beer and told that I need to “loosen up.” :-( I talk to my friends in history or English or classics and I turn a little green from envy. I'm in my fifth semester of law school, and it's the second one that I'm actually enjoying. Sometimes, I wish I could just push the rewind button in life and erase the whole affair. Nearly walked away from it twice before—am really only finishing because, with funding for this year, nothing's ventured beyond my time. But enough complaining!

For me, the experience has been positive inasmuch as it has allowed me to understand how liberal socialist atheists think, and generally how contemporary society is trying to enforce its value-choices. That's an internal perspective that I didn't acquire at my little conservative Mecca of a college. The experience has also helped me to become a more versatile apologist, in the sense of learning how to argue ruthlessly for things one doesn't "believe in" at all.

What do I want to do with it? Well, get on with the "real project" as soon as possible. For me, this means extending and refining the sort of theologically-driven social critique articulated by people like Machen, Schaeffer, and (most of all) Rushdoony in an historically-conscious, legally-sophisticate, and literarily-allusive mode. In other words, work on rewriting De Civ. Dei for an American audience, addressing the history and destiny of the American experiment in terms, not of redemptive history b.c., but of ecclesiastical history a.d. Hopefully involves heavy study of the epic tradition of imaginative, civilization-defining literature, and of medieval and early modern political philosophy.

At this point, I don't especially want to practice at all. Feel vaguely like a seminary student who's lost his faith in "god" (i.e., the people or their legislatures). Practically, I guess I'd like to practice in an anti-regulatory posture serving small businesses and farmers. Sortalike what the Institute for Justice does. But I'm still working on the whole "what next" question. One option is clearly to enter a terminal program in political philosophy or history of ideas and practice locally while in that program. A career in service abroad is another option.

Does that sound terribly jaded? Perhaps it explains some of dark allegories. LOL.


Dull blog

I guess I need to come up with some interesting content for this blog. Soon. My attempts to publish a spiritual mediation are not exactly going anywhere. Maybe I should try writing about more ordinary things. LOL


Between the Darkness and the Light:
III. Orientation and Alienation

In two epiphanies Philosophia had revealed herself to me.

The first—oh, the first! how its white light, its angel choirs, its Platonic intertext made me like some young god sent out to resolve the cosmos in dialectics! It was as if I were on a mission from God to live out in life what others only studied, in so much moive fai, as merely intellectually stimulating ancient history. I remember being happy, possessed, consumed bright Apollonian optimism and so firmly convinced that it is the love of questions that conquers all.

In her second epiphany, my mistress came—not out of some logos but as if out earth itself—and led me up above Thebes and acquainted me, not with Apollo, or even Diana, but with that other god. Instead of the proud and stirring periods of Plato’s holy martyr, I hear the brutal, overbearing hexameters of that materialist magician, Lucretius, who believes without believing. In place of that shrine of gleaming marble, I saw only a dark wood. Ché la diritta via era smarrita.

Is my end my beginning? Or is that just a stolen line?


what a wretch I have become! I dig up old papers and can't believe that I used to have active research interests. i surf the web for names of fellow classmates and find they they're teaching Greek in California or participating in conference panels in Kenya or busily writing dissertations on relatively important historical topics. ah! would that i could master the worm at my breast. why was I made to be curious about despairing things?


Back to School

Started classes again today. Family law is a little crazy. I wonder about my instructor. He has a nasal tone, no wedding band, and wears a bow tie. The Jurisprudence seminar looks very good though. I described myself as a sort of Christian Platonist and a borderline monarchist who has a low view of democracy. Now all I have to do is find a suitable paper topic. (It's actually an important paper because I haven't done very much real academic writing since undergrad. I need a fresh writing sample.)


2002 NY40

Found the asteroid at about 03:30 UT or Zulu time night. Faint (10th magnitude) and drifting west few degrees southwest of Vega at a rate of about an eighth of a degree per minute. The rock is only about 800 m or so across, and passes within about 500,000 km of the earth about the distance of the moon's orbit. It was really cool though to see it move slowly and steadily against the background stars, just drifting along. Daniel, Andrew, Mom, and Dad were all able to spot it before the clouds rolled in. Hurrah!


Feminism and the New Asceticism

Celibacy is an oft-discredited and overlooked model. Many great men were celibate—at least, e.g., the greater part of those dusty old premodern dead white guys. I am not suggesting that I personally have the gift or even the doom, but the idea does have a undeniable rational appeal. But beyond any idiosyncratic sentiments, I wonder if the whole culture would be the better from self-examination here.

The instant crisis of American culture in particular and of Western socialist-democratic culture in general, does not, I suggest, consist simply in the decline of the family, but is, certainly, bound up in its erosion. Part and parcel of that erosion are two related doctrines: romanticism and self-realization. We are perhaps accustomed to identify the latter with some porn-pushing ACLU type or, what is worse, with some dying gay coughing up blood. What we perhaps overlook is the true identity of the former.

Contemporary Christian conservatives tend to counter the worship of sex with what is really only another idol: the bourgeois home. In reality, may I suggest that the final product of this belief in “family values” is the broken home, just as self-slaughter is sequel to amor sui. Is this so strange? Men divorce, desert, and betray women for all sorts of common and relatively bestial reasons. This has pretty much always been the case. (The “poor,” in this sense, are always with us.) But the great tide towards divorce is something very different. Modern divorce is simply the endgame of an autonomous, historically feminist dream of romance which posits marriage as a mystical union in which two people become one not on the basis of the oaths they swear or the children born of their genetic union, but on the basis of a shared emotional, quasi-spiritual experience. In her own way, the divorcee is doing nothing more than asserting her ultimate faith in “family values.” She cannot continue in a marriage without “love,” with a spouse whom she perceives as, at bottom, essentially a failure because unequal to her idol of an ideal.

It is not my place to fault my mother’s gender as such. This is the Adamic sin. But it is crucially important for Christian evangelicals to understand that they can only lose at kulturkampf, so long as romantic love is enthroned as the sine qua non of marriage. It is not secret that this ideal of romance is, characteristically, a feminine weakness. Men, taken categorically, do not buy feel-good greeting cards. Nor are they the primary consumers of those tangible tokens in which the marketplace tries to sell the intangible. Men, rather, are typically and ordinarily content with vice of simple lust.

If in classical Rome, Christianity faced a culture glutted on lust, today, in our secular democracies, Christianity faces a market gorged on love, “love” exhausted into impotence by the kitschy sentimentality of the valentine. If the Playboy ethos represents essentially a reversion to the spirit of old paganism, with its depersonalization of the feminine, perhaps we may identify the idolization of romance, with its hopeless burden on the male, as the final realization of apostate, secular consumer culture.

What am I trying to say? Well, I am rather wondering aloud as to whether single Christians of both sexes might be called to forswear the cult of romance in a similar way to that in which they seek to guard their chastity. Furthermore, I am suggesting that the presence of this grand idol should inspire a fresh wave of exemplary asceticism, in which some men and women individually not only reject the romantic illusion as normative but also reject as false that bourgeois ideal which identifies marriage and parenthood as universal norms irrespective of religious or secular vocation.


Between the Darkness and the Light:
II. Philosophy, Poetry, and the Void

The shades of Plato and Boethius rose up from their tomes and offered to guide me to some obscure chapel among the spires of the Kashmir. I went through the narthex, right through the flaming walls of the world, found Philosophia standing at the altar, and married her on the spot. She was an older woman, old like Galadriel in Tolkien, stern, wise, terrible, beautiful. We honeymooned among the clouds of thought. In every sense, I thought I knew her. Between multiple intellectual epiphanies, she showed me the kingdoms of the earth and explained their histories. As I was now a man, she gave me her ring, and sent me down to hunt legends in the world below, a world of which she could never really be a part.

Philosophia had bid me look for her old ally and erstwhile rival, Poetry, who could only live upon the green earth, under broad elms amidst echoing woods. I passed through vales sounding with epic thunder. I picnicked besides the golden streams of lyric. At last, in a secluded meadow, I found her. She was a young girl, dressed in warm pastels, probably still in high school. (I didn’t ask.) I lay in her myrtle-strewn bower and held her a little with chalk-dirty hands. She began to chant to me of Love and his mother, and the generation of things, and lo! the scales fell from my eyes and I saw before me not … Poetry, but Philosophia herself, fey in her beauty and majesty, terrible as the storm and the wind and the flares of our star.

The meadow-bower faded around me and I found myself on the roof of the world, bloody fingers jammed amidst the ice, searching for granite. The height made me dizzy and sky with mountain swam before my eyes. I felt as though I were looking not up but down, down at a black sky filled with an infinity of bright, hard diamonds endlessly removed. It seemed as though I would fall through that void and be dissolved between those particles of light. And then I felt her hands around my biceps, holding me, her nipples hard against my shoulder blades.

“Look, behold, and tremble,” she was saying. “This is the universe as it really is. As a child, you squinted from your backyard through the veil of your little world up out at this immense whole of being. You laughed at those who found themselves alone out in its depths, between the ice and the fire. And now, at last, you are with them.

“But you were always falling in the void. Only now, now that you are mine, do you know it. You see the majesty and terror of the face of the universe, and your fear it. Here, on the edge of the apeiron, you are not so sure now that there really is a God behind those stars. Perhaps he is not quite the person, the father, as of whom you had thought your own. Are you so sure that that man, so great in your little world, the prophet of Nazereth, was really one with the infinity of number which upholds these atoms in their being?

“That shudder on your spine is my gift to you. You are free to try and stop it with food and drink, and Viennese music and cheap poetry. But you will never forget what you have seen here.”

I went black and found myself stumbling in una selva oscura. Almost involuntarily, I began to rub a cord which I found at my breast and numbly to intone, “Ave Maria, plena gratia . . .
Between the Darkness and the Light:
I. The Ghetto

I grew up in the Jesus movement, and finished growing up in the Homeschool movement. (I could have said Reconstructionist movement, but Rushdoony's shadow is certainly larger than those who have named themselves by his label.) I was, accordingly, exposed, on the one hand, to a sort of heady countercultural dissidence which burst the drywall of American society to cast about for roots and find, at length, Constantinople and Geneva, but also, on the other, to an anticommunist, survivalist siege mentality which rejected so large a part of American history as to emerge, notwithstanding its superficial patriotism, profoundly anti-American. My experience of Christianity was, from the first, supposed to be both radically biblical and intellectually curious.

My radically biblical pedagogy precluded me from much exposure to classical literature as a youth, but I was able to steal some long draughts of Shakespeare and Milton, which I drank much too quickly. Tolkien and Lewis were my early Vergils—guides in a realm of what I now consider poetry. They introduced me to another world, of mystery, of unreconstructed nature. They taught me that the most beautiful thing in the world is allusion to a larger story, expressed concisely in alliteration of simple, common words.

My teachers were conservative in an essentially utilitarian way. They loved Mill, Rothbard, and even old Augustine as clubs and hammers with which to beat that hideous strength, the young Olympian, the messianic State. But their classical liberal or even Whig sociologies were unequally yoked to a vision of the world out of tune with all later modernity, a vision whose finest hour was a Puritan theocracy never so fully realized as in spectacles of reprint publishers. These teachers made me to call into question everything which had happened in America and Europe since at least 1800, yet they forbade me to read the old poets and the old philosophers, as so many pagan homosexuals drunk on dreams of human autonomy. I would complete my training. I would not rush to face Vader.

To medieval history I then turned my eager eyes, eyes then eager to know the causes of things. Gazing into the dark ages, I looked into the fat book of its morning star, and devoured Augustine. In his pages, I read about a world which was lost—the Roman empire—and about another world which had come and gone, a world pregnant to him and expiated to me—the Old Christian West. For all their strict Calvinism, Augustine was the real progenitor of my teachers, the original Christian social critic; I felt as though I had meet Rushdoony’s distant ancestor—and so I put down Gary North.

I remember wanting to get inside the African’s mind, to understand what it meant to be a Roman and a Christian in love and in hate with that city founded upon a fratricide. For this reason, I began Latin. When Vergil came to me, he was a revelation, and I felt as though, “somehow . . . I’ve always known.” I quickly learnt Greek and found myself smack in Homer and Plato. Hellenism was not something alien to me, but was really stock and stone of that realm I knew and loved. I felt almost like Luke Skywalker at the end of Empire, when he discovers that Vader is his father. Only, for me, it seemed more like some comic eucastastrophe.


Happy hours and tenant melancholy

tu ne quaesieris, scire nefas, quem mihi, quem tibi
finem di dederint, Leuconoe, nec Babylonios
temptaris numeros. ut melius quidquid erit pati,
seu pluris hiemes seu tribuit Iuppiter ultimam
quae nunc oppositis debilitat pumicibus mare
tyrrhenum: sapias, vina liques, et spatio brevi
spem longam reseces. dum loquimur, fugerit invida
aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.

This ode is very precious to me. Especially after drinking wine around a table with old friends. But is it not, in retrospect, just a little bourgeois?


A Wiley Primer

a – age: 28
b – bonding activity (best): road trips
c – computer: Apple Powerbook G4
d – dream date: to lead her through a dark wood to a high mountain, to show her the kingdoms of the world and their history, to ravish her and whisper in her ear: Omnia vincit Amor; et nos cedamus amori.
e – epic (favorite): Aeneid or Paradise Lost
f – film (favorite): L’Avventura or Vertigo
g – greatest accomplishment: teaching myself Greek or surviving the first year of law school
h – happiest day of your life: walking across London and realizing that history was real
i – issues: with democratic culture
j – juvenilia: whales, dinosaurs, battleships, and the outer planets
k – kind: Homo sapiens
l – language work: Latin, Greek, Arabic m – meat of choice: New York strip or raw salmon
n – name: Joshua, not Josh
o – opera (best): Otello or Turandot
p – pizza toppings: pepperoni, mushrooms, black olives
q – quality (best): intellectual curiosity
r – raison de etre: to read, dream, and write
s – sport of choice: chess
t – television show (best): Babylon 5
u – urbs: Columbus
v – vacation (favorite): Italy
w – weakness: bookstores
x – xenophobia: really beautiful women ;-)
y – year born: 1974
z – zodiac sign: Gemini

(shamelessly reinvented)


Carla Hesse, "Intellectual Property, 700 B.C. to a.d. 2000," Daedalus (Spring 2002), 26-45.

The Spring issue of Daedalus has a very fine article (available in PDF!) on the history of intellectual property. I can't recommend this highly enough for the "big-picture" overview of where such concepts come from and how they've evolved.


Really Colloquial Arabic
Looked up "al-qaeda" in the dictionary yesterday. Had heard that Americans mispronouce "the base," Well, they sure do....

Try al- qaa 'i Da!

Stupid Americans... :-(


quid natum totiens, crudelis tu quoque, falsis
ludis imaginibus? cur dextrae iungere dextram
non datur ac veras audire et reddere voces?

Thus Aeneas calls after his mother (Venus) at Aen. I.407-409. I remember Dr. Holmes pausing there and telling us: "This is one of Vergil's great questions." And so it is, but it's particularly relevant here and now as a mediation on abyss of the internet. Why do we play with each other with false appearances? How is it that the net doesn't really lead us to hold hands or have true conversation? All this virtual stuff gets so old. But that problem is hardly new, as Vergil teaches us.


Formal Launch

Good evening. This, my personal weblog, is inspired by several community and personal blogs I've seen and impelled by my own lack of local intellectual community. Viva la internet! I shall use this space to publish my thoughts—meae sententiae, such as they are—to review what is of my own time, and report on what fresh tidbits I learn of what is not. The title is taken from the first line of a very great poem, and suggests both the image of a medieval soul lost in this modern world, but also my sense that that life is an intellectual adventure through a Romantic landscape. The content shall be, I think, predominately objective, philosophical, and universal, although I may also write of what I am doing and where I think myself to be going. This genre is new to me, but perhaps old friends and fellow pilgrims will find this work in progress beneficial or at least fun to read. AMDG.

As this is neither a contribution to a discussion list, nor a finished work intended for to communicate some discrete thesis to an audience, I will make no apologies whatsoever for being cryptic, allusive, evasive, speculative, or pseudo-poetic. Ergo, enjoy!


And so it begins...
There is a hole in your mind...
Nothing here is exactly as it appears...
Who are you?
What do you want?...
You do not understand.
But you will.