Fire, Fleet, & Candlelight

The Lyke Wake Dirge

This ae nighte, this ae nighte,
Every nighte and alle,
Fire and fleet and candle-lighte,
And Christe receive thy saule.

When thou from hence away art past,
Every nighte and alle,
To Whinny-muir thou com’st at last;
And Christe receive thy saule.

If ever thou gavest hosen and shoon,
Every nighte and alle,
Sit thee down and put them on;
And Christe receive thy saule.

If hosen and shoon thou ne’er gav’st nane
Every nighte and alle,
The whinnes sall prick thee to the bare bane;
And Christe receive thy saule.

From Whinny-muir whence thou may’st pass,
Every nighte and alle,
To Brig o’ Dread thou com’st at last;
And Christe receive thy saule.

If ever thou gav’st silver and gold,
Every nighte and alle,
At t’ Brig o’ Dread thou’lt find foothold,
And Christe receive thy saule.

But if silver and gold thou never gav’st nane,
Every nighte and alle,
Down thou tumblest to Hell flame,
And Christe receive thy saule.

From Brig o’ Dread whence thou may’st pass,

Every nighte and alle,
To Purgatory fire thou com’st at last;
And Christe receive thy saule.

If ever thou gav’st meat or drink,
Every nighte and alle,
The fire sall never make thee shrink;
And Christe receive thy saule.

If meat or drink thou ne’er gav’st nane,
Every nighte and alle,
The fire will burn thee to the bare bane;
And Christe receive thy saule.

This ae nighte, this ae nighte,
Every nighte and alle,
Fire and fleet and candle-lighte,
And Christe receive thy saule.


I have been busy with my own family problems for a few months. Yesterday Jerry Pournelle died. He was a wise, irascible man and a talented writer.  His departure bereaves me in ways I do not wish to express.

 

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May We Resurrect a Literary Genre

 

In ‘Downton Abbey’ there was a reference to the White Feather Girls. That was a famous hypocrisy. Lovely young girls would go up to men out of uniform and offer a symbol of cowardice. There was no quick, cogent response to these idiots. One fellow was hounded as a poltroon because he was out of uniform and obviously prime military material. He was. He was in formal dress on the way to the Queen to receive an award for valor in battle. Against such humorless passion there is little one can do. I humbly suggest the formal curse.

To a white feather lady I would say, ‘May you get your desire. May we join a war in which we have no national interest. May we lose a generation of young men for no purpose. We will pour our sons’ blood like water upon the sand. You and your generation of women will grow old with no men or offspring. May the loss of all credibility in the leaders you choose to enter this war cause the collapse of an entire culture and the Renaissance Civilization and a century of political chaos.’

This is a sort of judo based on assuming the success of their desires. If I fight one in the grip of passions I inspire not thought but a redoubling of his argument. If I support his passion, then he must try to decide how to fulfill his passion.

To an Arab who desires the whole world to submit to the Dar al Islam I say, ‘May your conquest of Europe go as well as your conquest of Persia. The chronic dyspepsia of Persia has split Islam in twain and caused a millennium of civil war. May you conquer the most advanced and heretical area of the world, and then try to control it when it is a full fledged islamic state. May you enjoy trying to impose the burka on the French and the Germans.’

May you clean your history of Confederate generals, and all other triggering thoughts. May the memory of Robert E. Lee and the terrible war in which he fought vanish from an Orwellian history. May all the painful lessons we have learned pass from mind so we may be forced to learn them again. May we be unaware that, even in the darkest hours, gallantry and nobility may shine from the least likely places and causes, and that we once learned to heal, and to grow, and to overcome, and to progress to greater things.’

New Sorts of Comedy

We recently had a special election here in Montana, and I learned a new joke. I was talking to an acquaintance who is an arrogant and evangelical atheist. The preliminary results of the election came on.

Turn it off. It will jinx it!’

What does this evangelical atheist fear? Will the god he denies listen to him and punish him. If one believes not in the supernatural, then what will jinx him? An atheist either believes in the cold equations and hard statistics, or he is worshiping a god that is strange to him.

What is as funny as a superstitious atheist? Oh, and he buys lottery tickets.

I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” But don’t mess with my luck!

Well I was parked next to a Subaru. It was a PZEV. A Partial Zero Emission Vehicle. Does anyone even listen to what they say?

I have a Chinese friend. She is Buddhist, but was married to an American Christian. She is a lovely woman, but her English is still atrocious. Much of her English she learned from her late husband. It always cracks me up when a frustrated Buddhist shouts out ‘Jesus Christ!’

– – – –

I apologize for the lack of posts. My family has been going through some medical travails.

The recent election in Montana has made at least national news. It is not the sort of thing about which I post, but if anyone is actually interested, just leave a question.

There Is Yet A World Beyond Our Petty Concerns

The World is Too Much With Us

The world is too much with us: late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste to our powers:

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;

The Winds that will be howling at all hours,

And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;

For this, for everything, we are out of tune;

It moves us not. – Great God! I’d rather be

A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;

So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,

Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;

Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

– William Wordsworth [1770-1850]

the Spectacle on the Sand

The man walks onto the sand. He carries an impudent, red cape. His clothing is extravagant to draw all eyes. He is the opposite of invisible. Nearby is an angry bull pawing at the sand. The man enrages the bull with dramatic gestures of the long cape. As the beast charges him it is dazzled and confused by the cape. Veronica after veronica, the mad bull charges the cape to find it has missed the smaller, frail man. The audience cheers the man. To a man such as I, this seems not prudent. It seems suicidally arrogant and foolish. But the man and those before him have a remarkably successful record.

The crowd cheers ‘¡Olé!’

 

The beast grows more reckless and enraged. The beast is intent only on the death of the man. The exhaustion, and rage dull the beast. The man must maintain concentration. Another charge, another veronica.

The crowd cheers ‘¡Olé!’

Unnoticed by the beast, the team mates of the man are working in virtual invisibility to the beast and the mass of the audience both.

The crowd cheers ‘¡Olé!’

The man is Donald Trump.

The beast is a small leviathan made of the Left, the media, and internationalists.

The cape is the sparkling mass of statements made before audiences and on Twitter.

The spectacle is riveting, but will end in blood and mess one way or the other.

A boring man, I prefer orderly progress to such spectacle. I prefer the fantasy of free men working together to make a better world. Alas, the small leviathan has put itself above the nation. When elections go one way, the leviathan of the Fabian Ratchets allow it. When elections go the other way, the leviathan interposes its large unthinking mass. The leviathan has made itself invulnerable to the general will. When one party rules, it is coddled. When the other rules, the beast snorts and paws the ground. The beast has made the rule of the people its broken puppet as it wishes to break the man with the cape. I care not for this spectacle. I fear it has become necessary. If the man loses, democracy is wounded. If the man wins, he may be either Cincinnatus or Marius.If this goes on the choice may be between Marius and Sulla.

It is, I think, too early for Caesar.

I find myself shouting ‘¡Olé!’

Cromwell or Charles.

Lafayette or Marat.

Another charge.

Another veronica.

The crowd cheers ‘¡Olé!’

There will be blood on the sand soon. The beast has more power and speed. The man is as frail as Pascal’s reed.

Bet on the man.

The crowd cheers ‘¡Olé!

 

Finding Yourself

Johnathan and Amanda,

Here’s another thing that doesn’t much fit anywhere. Such things are seldom taught.

Picture your distant ancestors wandering. In the morning when they arise first they need to find where they are. Polaris is not yet in the North. There is no pole star at the time. The compass is yet to be invented. They wake before dawn and look for the sun. As rosy fingered dawn approaches they know what quarter of the sky is East. At dawn they know closely. So to know one’s orientation is to find the East. The Orient. And the Sun was the guiding light. Even in metaphor.

What light through yonder window breaks?

It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

Look to the sunrise. The South, the right, is the path the Sun takes to its destination. The right path to the South is warm. The right is light. The wealthy lands lie in that direction. It is the direction of your strong, agile hand. The left is the side the Sun avoids. It the direction of shadow. Crops grow less well in the North. It is the side of your weak, clumsy left hand.

The obvious idea is that the gods live in the East and the West. The South is favored, and the North is ill-omened. The other is that the left hand, the clumsy weak one is also disfavored. This is reflected in language. The word for left is taboo and replaced. Right is good. Right is correct. Right is dexterous. Right is proper. The word for left is gauche. Sinister. Left is valueless; what is left, not kept. Spanish is Izquierda. Izquierda doesn’t even look Spanish. That is because it is not. The tabooed word was replaced by a word from Basque. By the way, Spanish words with a ‘z’ are borrowed, generally from Basque.

If one wishes to know East more closely, one makes a circle on the earth. One stands in the center of the circle and has a child place a stone at the sunrise and sunset places. Repeat for a year and the line between the East and West piles is very close to East and West.

 

I Come to Praise Dan Carlin, Not to Challenge Him

castle-bravo-2

 

I humbly come to recommend a podcast. Dan Carlin is an intelligent man with whom I have basic disagreements. He does an occasional podcast called Hardcore History. His most recent episode, Destroyer of Worlds, is a triumph. It is the best thing I have ever seen on the age of nuclear weapons.

I have a thousand quibbles. But they don’t matter. I wouldn’t add to the length for a quibble. And the incomplete or mistaken ideas on atomic weapons are not things I would put in a public podcast. I credit him with similar scruples.

This is a podcast every person who aspires to wisdom should hear. Please listen.