Showing posts from May, 2018

Hot Flashes

They started a few months ago, gently at first. I would be practicing my fiddle and suddenly feel a bit warm. “This isn’t so bad,” I would think. “Nothing like the raging sweats I have heard about.” Now I know. Now I know what it is like not to be able to sleep through the night without waking up covered in sweat, only to be hit by the chills as soon as I throw the covers off. Now I know what it is like not to be able to concentrate for more than a few minutes at a time without my thoughts going fuzzy and my motivation draining out of me like water. Now I know what it is like to feel overcome with rage, only to be dropped the next moment into apathy because what difference does it make anyway, now that I can no longer conceive? Now I know what it is like to be a woman—because, of course, I am no longer one, not in the way that really matters. I wish I were talking about menopause. “How have you been? I haven’t seen you for weeks,” one of the older women who serves as

What Would Milo Do

I am finding it difficult to stay cheerful of late. I could blame the hot flashes, which have been wearing me down for the past several months, but it isn’t just the hot flashes. It is the whole wretched culture war that—human nature being what it is—we are never going to win. It is the relentless pressure in academia to conform to the prevailing narrative of victimization and oppression that would cast one group as demons (white males, especially Christians) and the other as innocent (everyone else). It is the unwillingness on the part of establishment conservatives to credit what Milo has shown are the stakes in our fight against the death of our Western ideals. It is the feeling of being muffled and silenced for speaking out against the mischaracterization of my own field of medieval studies as riven with white supremacism and neglect of the Other. It is the disappointment in not being able to do more to make a difference in the way in which the argument goes. It is en

Training the Soul in Virtue: Lessons from the West

February 9, 2018 [watch here ] If our theme for this weekend is “What is Western civilization?,” there is another question with which I would suggest we need to start: What does it mean to be “civilized”? At a minimum—one might argue—being civilized means “capable of living in cities,” that is, capable of sustaining complex interactions with other human beings. Almost immediately, however, all sorts of qualifications spring to mind. Does being civilized mean renouncing violence as such or simply living according to the law? Or is it more about not being gross or physically offensive? Not being rude or undignified? Or is it more about being productive and having particular skills? What does it have to do with manners or morals? Is it possible to be civilized without being virtuous? If not, which virtues does it require? These are not idle questions. We live at a time in which many would argue virtue is in short supply, and yet in which signaling one’s virtue is all th