War requires clearly defined enemies according to Schmitt.

Psychopolitics: Schmitt, Bush’s Iraq Mess, and the Saddam Solution

  Carl Schmitt who was one of those extremely bad Catholics like Heidegger who played a part in Hitler's regime. In some circles Schmitt became known as the "Crown Jurist of the Third Reich."This arch-conservative thinker ironically made a comeback through the New Left. You can see his influence on Derrida (that Catholic phenomenology enabler) in his The Politics of Friendship; for Schmitt politics is the process of the state creating a friend/enemy dichotomy by … [Read More...]

Cultural Warriors: Goya's "Fight With Cudgels" (and sinking in quicksand) is an example used by Girardian Michel Serres in one of his books. The painting demonstrates the symmetry and stupidity of such rivalries.

On Not Fighting Matt Walsh’s Cultural Warrior Contagion

Let me be clear, I can only read Matt Walsh's constant emoting one paragraph at a time.His never-ending rivalries with the easiest targets make me physically ill. After these rare reads I know what Jean-Michel Oughourlian [one of the two thinkers who interviewed Girard in Things Hidden] means when he says in The Genesis of Desire that our desires are making us sick and destroying our relationships.From what I've been able to gather, Walsh's appeal lies in his rivalristic emoting with … [Read More...]

Medieval Last Judgments do justice to the narrative necessity (as opposed to doctrinal) of the devil for the Incarnation to make sense. This one is Giotto's from the Scrovegni Chapel (1307).

No Devil, No God

There is an amusing episode recounted by the distinguished historian Tony Judt in his NYRB obituary for Leszek Kolakowski:The seductively suggestive title of Kołakowski’s talk was “The Devil in History” [I believe it was renamed "Politics and the Devil" and collected in Modernity on Endless Trial] For a while there was silence as students, faculty, and visitors listened intently. Kołakowski’s writings were well known to many of those present and his penchant for irony and close reasonin … [Read More...]

Philosophy is much more than the critique of representation.

Ruined by Books 2: My TOP10 Philosophy List

Today, as promised in last week's TOP10 novel list, we continue on my semi-autobiographical experiment in book classification.We're turning to philosophy.Compiling a pure philosophy list is problematic, because I believe, following Henri de Lubac's The Drama of Atheist Humanism and John Milbank's Theology and Social Theory that the boundary between religion and philosophy is so porous that it is pretty much meaningless. If some of my choices or omissions seem arbitrary to you then next we … [Read More...]

Czterech_śpiących_07 (1)

All the Best to the Russians, But I Am Profoundly Skeptical

The Merton Annual asked me to write a piece about the Thomas Merton - Czeslaw Milosz correspondence that was published some time ago as Striving Towards Being. The correspondence includes a long discussion of Russia. I admit Russia is a minor obsession of mine; quite natural for a Pole, after all.The thinness of today's Western political writing on Russia has something to do with the desperation of conservatives who are pretty much the only intellectuals who are actively interested in that … [Read More...]

This self-referential list has some eye-opening reads.

Ruined by Books: My TOP10 Novel List

Thinking through betrayal reminded me of Hermann Broch's novel The Sleepwalkers. It's one of those books that you faithfully return to whenever you get the chance. I've encountered my fair share of such books. I've also been tagged in those "influential books" lists on social media, but I can't get it all down into a list of only ten books from all genres.Therefore, I'll attempt a quasi-bracketology approach by making TOP10 lists of genres (to be determined later) over the next few weeks. … [Read More...]

What can we learn from the monumental intellectual betrayals of Broch, Allen, and Scheler?

Hermann, Max, Woody and Falling Out of the Ordo Amoris

 Yesterday we discussed Woody Allen as a liminal personality stuck somewhere between belief and disbelief. Being lukewarm is acceptable to most, even if it's a bit hard on God's stomach, but when one makes a jump into either committed belief or unbelief (from its opposite), then one becomes an outcast. There is nothing more frightening than the person who has betrayed a community to that community; bridges burn automatically behind them.Being haunted by both belief and … [Read More...]

There is much to say about Woody Allen and the possibilities of conversion in a secular age. Not all of it is comforting.

Woody Allen Considers Conversion

Allen’s latest film Magic in the Moonlight has not received the credit it deserves. At first glance it is a starkly different film than Blue Jasmine. It seems this way because it channels some of the brainy levity of the films from the 80s, and even 70s classics like Love and Death or Annie Hall. Such a stereotyping of the earlier films ignores the existentially dead-serious serious thought-experiments and questions posed by those films through, not in spite of, their use of the comedy genre. … [Read More...]

Archaeology and Empire building: Piero della Francesca, Discovery of the True Cross, 1466.

The Empire Strikes Back: Feast of the Holy Cross

It's easy to forget the Feast of the Holy Cross is a consummate Constantinian feast.St. Helen (patron saint of archaeologists), mother of Constantine, so the story goes, found the True Cross on an expedition in 326. This was a mere year after the imperial-doctrinal consolidation at the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea that would keep Christians and the Empire together. The feast was rolled out with the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on 13 September 334. The True Cross itself … [Read More...]

Given what Zbigniew Herbert says about the Dutch Masters in his Collected Essays, Vermeer's "View of Delft" (1661) might be his idea of New Jerusalem.

They Were Not Able to Separate the Soul From the Flesh

Finishing Theology of Transformation was one of those bittersweet reading moments: I was happy to discover the work of Oliver Davies, but sad the book ended.I've already explored his discussions of what he calls the Second Scientific Revolution, the way it helps to locate Christ in our cosmos in a new way, and how it helps to put some flesh back into our theologies (I'll have more to say about his work soon).Reading Davies led me into posts about the shockingly fleshy heart of faith here … [Read More...]