Essences become meaningless in both a perfect and marred world.

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In one of his last works before his masterpiece, The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote The Dream of a Ridiculous Man.

The Dream

In this story, the narrator goes to another solar system and lands on a planet where the inhabitants are people just like us, but untainted by the Fall in the Garden of Eden. They live, the narrator tells us:

“In the same paradise as that in which . . . our parents lived before they sinned.”

But the narrator, being a fallen man, corrupts the inhabitants:

“Like the germ of a plague infecting whole kingdoms, I corrupted them all.”

They then begin to act like us on earth. …


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Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Shortly before he was martyred with others in 203 AD, St. Saturus related a vision he had of heaven. He said he and the other martyrs were carried eastward to a garden, where a handful of angels started exclaiming, “Here they are! Here they are!

The martyrs were taken to a group of elders and an aged man with a youthful face. The martyrs kissed the aged man, and he touched their faces with his hand. Then the elders told them, “Go and play.”

Fr. James Schall understood why the martyrs were told to go and play.

In his book, On the Unseriousness of Human Affairs, Schall explored the unseriousness of serious human affairs and the seriousness of unserious human affairs. …


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Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

“The rational creature . . . cannot wish not to be happy.” Thomas Aquinas

The buzz phrase this week?

“The Great Reset.”

It’s scary, but let’s be clear: it’s not a conspiracy. Folks like Justin Trudeau are declaring it openly. Conspiracists don’t do that.

But it is an exercise in the adage, “Don’t let a good crisis go to waste.” It’s the kind of nefarious mindset that informs Robert Higgs’ excellent Crisis and Leviathan.

The Great Reset appears to be an idea among the global elite that COVID gives them an opportunity to “reimagine” economic systems, along the lines that the elite think more appropriate. …


Are food prices soaring?

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Photo by Christine Roy on Unsplash

Ever since the 2008–2009 crisis, the thinkers, pundits, and writers who ascribe to the Austrian School of economics have assured us that massive inflation was going to start. They assiduously refused to provide a date, but they assured us nonetheless, often suggesting we hoard gold and silver.

I long ago gave up on massive inflation happening. There were just too many countervailing considerations.

Like the United States army. As long as the U.S. dollar is the reserve currency, it has value everywhere in the world. It will continue as the reserve currency as long as the U.S. …


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Both Cicero and Francis Bacon gave deformity a high place on their list of reasons for laughter.

Arthur Koestler said any behavior that deviates from the norm tends to make people laugh, though he also said such laughter is primarily the property of an “uncouth mind,” and he’s probably right (who laughs at a hunchback, except a child or jerk?).

But there’s a type of deformity most of us laugh at, and partly because the target of the laughter is laughing with us: The deformity of decadence.

Here I offer a humorous recount of nineteen decadents of western civilization.

The men and women on this list made it for different reasons. …


Josef Pieper with a G.K. Chesterton kicker teach us the importance of leisure

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Photo by Zach Betten on Unsplash

It’s commonplace knowledge that many of our best ideas hit us in the middle of the night or in our first waking moments. While we are completely at rest, not obsessed with ourselves or our work, ideas come to us like a gift.

The twentieth-century Thomistic philosopher Josef Pieper explains this phenomenon in his work, Leisure, The Basis of Culture.

Like most of Pieper’s books, Leisure is short but thick (don’t be deceived and think you’ll finish it in two sittings). True to Pieper’s approach, Leisure tends to be filled with sweeping statements that compress ten pages of truth into one sentence. …


Josef Pieper’s views during the neo-Thomistic movement.

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Photo by Tom Parkes on Unsplash

There are some authors who make you think, “I could read this guy, and just this guy, for the rest of my life. He’d bring me to greater and greater levels of wisdom and understanding.”

For me, the German philosopher Josef Pieper (1904–1997) is such a writer. He wrote in the Scholastic vein and was squarely within the neo-Thomistic movement of the mid-twentieth century.

A modernist might think, “How can a person steeped in Thomas Aquinas be relevant? Aquinas lived in the thirteenth-century, which was at least 50 years before Netflix.”

Pieper wrote for that kind of person.

Pieper, like Aquinas, was concerned about the truth: statements that correspond as closely as possible to reality. Truth is relevant to every age, including the modern one, contrary claims of our postmodernist friends notwithstanding. …


Well, no. But don’t fear the gnome

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Photo by Craig McLachlan on Unsplash

The first philosophical event in the Greek world, the selection of their seven sages, gives the first distinctive and unforgettable characteristic of Greek civilization. Other people have saints, while the Greeks have philosophers. They are right when some state that a people is not defined by its great men it has but by the way it recognizes and honors them.

Friedrich Nietzsche

When you hear “gnome,” you probably think of a scary little creature.

That’s because of the Rosicrucians, a 17th-century mystical movement in Europe that said gnomes are little misshapen creatures that live in the bowels of the earth.

But well before the Rosicrucians, the word “gnome” meant something different. …


My son turned me onto a musical movement that I’m not sure even has its own name

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Photo by Hernan Carlos on Unsplash

A music revival took place from about 2000 to 2015 that didn’t even have a name.

Which is fitting, its eponymous grandfather wasn’t given a name either, until after it had concluded.

In the 1960s, a rock genre came out of thousands of garages across America. They played Them’s “Gloria” and simple chords with heavy beats.

From Dallas: Sam the Sham & the Pharoah’s “Wooly Bully.

Union City, Indiana: The McCoy’s “Hang on Sloopy.

Los Angeles: The Standell’s “Dirty Water” (I never figured out why a LA band wrote a tribute to the city of Boston.)

Saginaw, Michigan: Question Mark and the Mysterians’ “96 Tears” (poor lead singer Rudy Martinez changed his legal name to “Question Mark” in anticipation of more success, but none came). …


The Social Dilemma uses the intellectual framework built by McLuhan, but the similarities stop there

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The Social Dilemma documentary has broken records. According to its main star, Tristan Harris, 38 million households in the first 28 days saw it on Netflix.

That’s incredible.

What’s even more incredible?

The whole documentary is a salute to Marshall McLuhan.

Well, it’s a tribute to Neil Postman, who was a loyal McLuhan disciple.

Harris, who is largely responsible for sounding the alarm bell about what the social media industry is up to, appeared on “The Joe Rogan Experience” last week. …

About

Eric Scheske

Writer, lawyer, husband, father of seven. Pursuits: studying, gardening, falling and getting up again. “Moderation in all things except love.”

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