Linkage

Paleo Retiree writes:

About Paleo Retiree

Onetime media flunky and movie buff and very glad to have left that mess behind. Formerly Michael Blowhard of the cultureblog 2Blowhards.com. Now a rootless parasite and bon vivant on a quest to find the perfectly-crafted artisanal cocktail.
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4 Responses to Linkage

  1. spandrell says:

    How do you get to appreciate a traditionalist such as Jim Kalb, when the life you have lead is against everything he holds dear? You are a mild hedonist of the kind which was always held in contempt by the Catholic establishment.
    I’m genuinely curious.

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    • Apologies, missed this one until last night. And tks for the interest. I’ve had fun thinking about your question, and I’ve got a two-part response.

      1) I resonate to many different critiques of contempo (ie., post-Enlightenment Western) society — trad, Catholic, trad-Catholic, right-anarchist, left-anarchist, eco, Paleo, etc. It’s a weird life we lead these days, and p-o-v’s that can throw a little light on the weirdness strike me as things to be appreciated. Happy to recommend the good ones whether or not I agree fully with them.

      2) I doubt I’d be happy in Jim Kalb’s ideal replacement for present-day society. I find Catholicism pretty awe-inspiring in terms of its cultural accomplishments, its richness and depth and much else. And I get it, that it’s central to Western Civ. But I also find it pretty my-way-or-the-highway so far as the “how to live?” question goes. (I find all the monotheisms a little too my-way-or-the-highway …) I tend to think that there are many (though not an infinite number of) ways to lead a Good Life, where Catholicism seems to think there are only one or two. In a culture that makes no room for hedonists, sensualists, everyday mysticism, and bohemians, where would I find a place? My own preferred ideal world would mix up Vedanta, Switzerland, and Colin Ward, and would be full of all different kinds of people, with many different goals and tastes, and living many different kinds of lives — and everyone wishing each other well, eating good food, taking part in participatory culture, and being appreciative of each others’ contributions.

      Short version: Even if I’m not wild about the proposed solution, I love the critique.

      Plus: Jim isn’t (yet) World Dictator, and personally (we’ve met a few times) he’s a very civilized, smart, tolerant and big-hearted guy who enjoys laughs, ironies and art. I could be wrong, but he seems amused by my boho carryings-on. He’s also a brilliant writer — I don’t know of many trad-Righties who are in his class. So I’m very glad to read him, know him, and to steer a few people his way.

      Do you enjoy the trad-Catholic critique? See much to its proposed solutions?

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      • spandrell says:

        No, I don’t. I used to enjoy it a lot. Then I realized that I wouldn’t have enjoyed traditional society much, so I don’t listen much to traditionalists any longer. I do have a lot of respect for Jim Kalb. His critique of the logical framework behind liberalism is top notch. And as you say he is a very pleasant man, as shows in his writing. He also doesn’t propose much, does he? Hard to hate the guy when he isn’t putting forward a vision I can be scared of, beyond some abstract points that are hard to argue against.

        “My own preferred ideal world would mix up Vedanta, Switzerland, and Colin Ward, and would be full of all different kinds of people, with many different goals and tastes, and living many different kinds of lives — and everyone wishing each other well, eating good food, taking part in participatory culture, and being appreciative of each others’ contributions.”

        Well it does sound nice. But I guess the point of reaction 2.0 is that it’s not possible. Human societies have a structure which depends on biology among other things, and Vedanta produced modern India and its filth, Switzerland produces stiff boredom, and anarchism produced Barcelona 1937.
        There’s a lot of models being thrown around, Marxism redux, Traditionalism, Singapore, Skynet, Mad Max. But nobody thinks it’s even remotely feasible to have a mild, bohemian, nice culture where people can chat about anarchism with friends in a strip club while drinking absinthe shots.

        I take it that you do enjoy critiques of liberalism because liberalism is the most real, actual enemy of the form of life you prefer. But all other critiques are also very prudish, and I include myself.
        Perhaps agnostic is right and it’s a generational thing. Taki, Nick Land and you come from very different places but are eerily similar in your social liberalism.

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  2. Interesting comment, tks. In any case, I enjoy critiques of liberalism mainly because they throw light on the life we’re living today. For a brief moment I feel like a fish who’s aware of the water he’s swimming in, and of how special and peculiar a thing it is. I disagree that all critiques of modernity and liberalism are prudish, though — where do you get that idea? Certainly the eco-radical, the boho, the anarchist and the Vedantist critiques are anything but prudish. Also, you seem under the impression that a person with a vision of an ideal society must necessarily want to impose that vision on others. Not in my case. My own eco-Vedanta-Swiss vision is a daydream, and although it’s one I’m very attached to it isn’t one I’d ever consider inflicting on anyone else. As an anarchist/Vedantist, I’m the opposite of an idealist or a utopian. I try to take life as it is and (to the extent I have any impact on it at all) hope to open up a few pathways of qi. A little more ease, some additional openness to pleasures and experimentation, a little more humanity, some appreciation for fleeting beauties, recognition of the value of tradition, a little more groundedness … And then it’s on to the next generation to do their best. Or not. In any case, I’ll be out of the picture by then.

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