Saturday, July 18, 2009

On flattering and supporting one's enemies

The Frenchman Louis Dutens writes from 1806 on France before the Revolution:
“Formerly I went frequently to Paris: I saw often many of those who were called ‘the philosophers’. It was particularly at Madame Geoffrin’s, Baron d’Holbaek’s, and d’Alembert’s, where they principally assembled. It was there that they silently planned the destruction of religion, of the clergy, the nobility, and the government. From the year 1766, I said to the Bishops who were connected with them, ‘They detest you’; to the great noblemen who protected them, ‘They cannot bear the splendour of your rank, which dazzles them’; to the Farmers-General who upheld them, ‘They envy your riches’. These continued, however, to admire, to flatter, and to support them.”

To view one's mortal enemies as harmless and misguided pontificators is one of the many perils of life.

There is a type of magnanimous patron who seeks out his philosophical opposite. He thinks the iconoclast will remain a fringe character, like a unique exotic pet.

In many cases, this is excusable. How many coffee shop communists never take action?

Yet to love one's enemies truly, one must acknowledge the extent of their ill will.

Then one must recognize that indifference towards their increasing power and influence is no act of love, for them or for one's own.

(Quotation via Deogowulf)

Making Men Moral, 15th Anniversary Conference

When I read Robert P. George's _Making Men Moral_ in college I thought it was one of the best intellectual challenges to the superficial libertarian spirit of our time.

Now his work is 15 years old and has won for itself a retrospective conference.

Micah Watson summarizes the gathering, while audio files of the lectures are available at the conference web site.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Russian choir mocks energy-dependent Europe

An amusing display of national pride and mockery of neighbors.

I know of nothing similar in the U.S. music industry, which is mired in embarrassed irony.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Horror: Electronic Arts makes video game 'inspired by' Dante's Inferno

The first person who said "there is no such thing as bad publicity" likely was an incompetent PR man trying to spin his way out of some mess he made.

One such ridiculous mess comes from Electronic Arts, which funded fake Christian protests of its Dante's Inferno game. The protesters "passed out amateurish material and held signs bearing slogans such as 'Trade in Your PlayStation for a PrayStation,' 'Hell is not a Game' and 'EA = Electronic Anti-Christ.'"

The game's development team even tweeted the dull protest as if unaware of its origins. Speculating on whether the team was in on the act adds the faintest spice to the plain mush of the marketers' failed sensationalism.

Delicate connoisseurs of Western culture are advised to avoid descriptions of the video game's "interpretation" of Dante.

Dante’s epic placed his beloved Beatrice in Paradise. The EA game, in a vile act of cultural vandalism, makes its Dante character rescue Beatrice’s soul from Lucifer.

To make reparation, a reading from La Vita Nuova is in order:
Beatrice has gone to the highest Heaven,

to the realm where the angels have peace,

and stays with them, and has left you ladies:

no quality of coldness took her,

or of heat, as it is with others,

but it was only her great gentleness:

since light from her humility

pierced the skies with so much virtue,

that it made the Eternal Lord marvel,

so that a sweet desire

moved him to claim such greeting:

and called her from the heights to come to him,

since he saw our harmful life

was not worthy of such a gentle one.

Speaking of this life's unworthiness: the Inferno video game character uses a cross as a weapon.

There is more vengeful fun to be had in comparing EA's gassy pop culture burp with its supposed inspiration. The playful CNA article continues:

"We've tried to faithfully recreate the geography of hell as he wrote about it," the game’s executive producer Jonathan Knight told USA Today.

Dante Alighieri’s “Inferno” depicts various circles of hell in which sinners are punished according to their defining sins.

Dante placed the fraudulent and the sowers of discord in the penultimate Eighth Circle.

In the Divine Comedy the Inferno is followed by the “Purgatorio,” a poetic exploration of purgatory, and then by the “Paradiso,” Dante’s depiction of the blessed in heaven.

He closes the “Paradiso” by exalting God as “the Love which moves the sun and the other stars.”

EA has not announced any sequels to its game.