October 21, 2016

Now Playing

(Reviewed September 22, 2016)

Is it unreasonable to care about Clint Eastwood’s mild falsification of what actually happened after "the Miracle on the Hudson"?

Hell or High Water
(Reviewed September 15, 2016)

A sometimes amusing but morally illiterate "neo-Western" which seems likely to spawn numerous imitators

Florence Foster Jenkins
(Reviewed August 19, 2016)

A bittersweet but well-executed comedy to which there is much more than may at first appear.

Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party
(Reviewed August 18, 2016)

If this is how both sides in America have decided to do politics in the age of Trump, there’s not much point finding fault, is there?

ENTRY from October 13, 2016

Writing in yesterday’s New York Times, Ross Douthat makes a common mistake about honor. Actually, two common mistakes if you count his use of the word "honor" in the first place. So common are they, indeed, that it would hardly be worth pointing them out if they didn’t involve him in the outrageous falsehood that those Republicans who have supported the nomination or election of Donald Trump at any stage of his campaign over the past 16 months have somehow been dishonored by so doing. Or, to use Mr Douthat’s words: "In bending the knee to Trump last spring, they thought that they were buying party unity and a continued share of power, and paying for it with just a little of their decency, a mite of their patriotism, a soupçon of their honor."

That "soupçon" is the first mistake. As pretty much everyone used to know, honor doesn’t come (or depart) in soupçons. It’s an all or nothing proposition — like "patriotism" or pregnancy, to both of which it was once, way back in the olden days when we had a proper honor culture, closely related. That’s why Hamlet says:

Rightly to be great
Is not to stir without great argument,
But greatly to find quarrel in a straw
When honor’s at the stake.
  Full Entry

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

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

Recent Articles

The End of the News September 30, 2016.
The media have left their first love, the news, and their own raffish past for what they imagine to be a high-class mistress called "narrative" — From The New Criterion of September, 2016 ... Full Article

House of Cads June 30, 2016.
The ladies and gentlemen have long since left the building — From The New Criterion of June, 2016 ... Full Article

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

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