Some reading, and an open floor
I just read Brian Millar's piece in the last hour. It was great but sobering. Plus there was a report released today that apparently 1 million children in the UK don't own a single book!
It got me thinking how the fact that the "transaction cost" of acquiring knowledge has decreased (e.g no need to go on your bike to the library, find the book, and take it home - you can just one click order or look on Wikipedia!) may have factored into our collapse in reading physical books. If knowledge is no longer precious or rare, then there is reduced incentive to go to the place where the knowledge can be found. In the past, someone who had read encyclopaedias from the library was seen as the fount of knowledge in the community/school/work. Now everyone has a portable fount of knowledge in their pockets (which is probably beeping at them for their attention as we speak).
The decreased transaction cost is far from the only (and certainly not the most important factor) but it is one I think we neglect to consider.
Oh, and are you planning on a "pilgrimage" to the UK's latest and most famous site of worship Paul? The Bristol Airport "Multi Faith" area (see something I wrote here https://overthefield.substack.com/p/the-vision-of-vanity)
I doubt you will find a well there though (or anything of substance or sacredness for that matter!)
Thanks Paul, I so value your newsletter and these Salons are always a delight.
As for what is on my mind...
I've been thinking a lot recently about how we feel ever more caught, as a culture, between two kinds of story.
On the one hand, stories about technology-fuelled transcension of all human limits: material, social, and even bodily and organic. On the other, stories about collapse into a kind of permanently degraded afterworld.
It seems to me that if we can understand more about where these stories come from, and why we're telling them at ever increasing volume, then we'll have taken a step towards understand where we're at now.
I think at the heart of it all is a loss of faith in our collective agency. In the Global North the big arena of our collective lives, politics, has run out of stories to tell us about what the future looks like and how it can be beter than the past. Into that void steps the narratives of transcension told told by tech overlords, and narratives of collapse.
This version of modernity — or what you've so aptly called The Machine — has worked hard to make us believe that collective endeavour, or politics, is fruitless and debased. It's been pretty successful in that quest. Perhaps if we can regain some faith in our collective ability to shape our shared future, we can begin to tell different stories.
The destruction of the Irish Celtic world in favour of the corporate multi ethnic territory is a catastrophe. Our author, this learned fellow, once opined, that the meaning of life is people, place and prayer. Place. I repeat Place!
Ireland for the Irish. The destruction of this at the hands of these leftist, religious maniacs is treason.
Hi Paul. I enjoyed your FPR talks recently, and I'm hoping you can give me the source for your quote from Fr. Sibley, the one about "What we will not preserve, we cannot share." I've looked all over but can't find books or blogs by the man. Would love to read more if he's publishing. Thank you for any pointers.
The greatest proof to me of culture's flight from faith is the almost complete lack of reference in public spaces to the narrative arc of the Bible. Is the stark binary of the conflict between good and evil, played out in a hundred stories in scripture, too unsophisticated for us to give it any countenance at all? The responses one hears everywhere, unlike the insights shared in this disciplined space, are like deaf people trying to communicate with sign language because no one can hear.
Just finished the last book of C.S. Lewis's space trilogy last night (I got a book that had all the volumes back to back). They were fantastic. His descriptions about the internal spiritual fights the characters undergo really match how I experience what I perceive to be my own spiritual fights (in particular the narrator's battle at the beginning of Perelandria and of Mark in his cell).
Something that I've been thinking about though is Ransom's heel injury. It seems like a reference to Achilles but I'm not familiar enough with the story, and what I do know I wonder why the association of Ransom with Achilles would be made.
Mildly off topic, but I’d love it if you could upload a spoken-word version of your articles? It’s odd listening to an AI generated voice talk about the machine or getting away from it ask at a spiritual place hidden in some bracken, 10 miles from anywhere. Kind of breaks the spell.
I started reading Mark Boyle's book, and he mentioned that his smallholding is close to where you live. I was wondering how often you see him and how similar your day-to-day living and relationship with technology is to his. Obviously, I'm not asking you to share too much personal detail, but I'm coming from a perspective of feeling increasingly frustrated by how much technology has enmeshed itself into my life and constantly looking for ways to unmachine myself as much as possible.
I'm a lot less interested in big "grand scheme of things" discussions and more in the theme of small individual responsibilities. I had my cousin and nephew to dinner recently. Both talked a lot against the government - fair enough - saying they knew so many people who were, as my cousin put it, "on the bones of their arses." And what are either of you personally doing about that, I asked? They seemed taken aback, As if the existence of government absolved them from any personal individual responsibility for charitable work of their own. I find this occupies my thoughts at Christmas, a time when traditionally we were supposed to help and give to the poor and less fortunate, not to spend billions stuffingour faces and buying esch other unnecessary gifts. What is our responsibiity to others less fortunate especially at this hard time of year? At Christmas, what do we have to give? We can each do only a little, so how best to utilise the gifts we have been given
I am very distressed/annoyed/alarmed at this pending (and outrageously, intentionally, vague and broad and draconian) "Hate Speech" legislation pending (seemingly unstoppably) here in Ireland.
First, the reaction to the stabbing being used to push this legislation looked to my eyes like a textbook Shock Doctrine response. Now, I'm a cynical person when it comes to politics but the ... discipline(?) with which the Irish media and government worked in tandem and seemed to almost gloss over the mass-stabbing while rushing to bash a public traumatised by bloodied children in the streets of Dublin to flog this legislation was really unsettling. What's going on looks to me like a mass-gaslighting of Irish people, who apparently mistakenly believed they lived in a country with a unique and valuable (and rather world-renowned) culture and understood what that country and culture were about.
Second, as an American expat I'm almost incapable of not speaking my mind, as decades of First Amendment protections have rendered me completely inept at self-censorship, even were I inclined to accept its imposition. I'd require a literal gag, in addition to taking a sledgehammer to my gadgets (which I'd love to do, but only have food money through holding my nose and dealing with technology). A few years back a friend was trying to encourage me to move to France instead of Ireland and I told him, "I can't live in France, I'm liable to say something true about Israel."
Third, I just don't want Ireland ruined like this, through not only uncontrolled immigration but through any transformation into a tiny little authoritarian epigone and foot-soldier for the rest of the rotten imperium. It's burned into my soul the first afternoon I spent here wandering St. Stephen's Green, of this utterly alien energy, of non-anxious families—untroubled by any of that omnipresent, brittle ambience of potentially murderous violence common in the USA—smiling and leisurely enjoying a beautiful day with friends and toddlers and babies in strollers. It was like the moment where the dark energy finally disperses for Frodo on Mount Doom after the ring has been destroyed and he exclaims in relief, "Ohh it's gone!"
It took me some 11 years of chasing down officially-certified paperwork, of filing long, formal applications, and waiting (again, *years*) for my Foreign Birth registration to actually be approved and my passport shipped. That people are arriving by the busload, undocumented and from who knows where, with not even my modest connection of an Irish granny or anything else, and who didn't spend years dreaming of one day getting here, and who care about Ireland about as much as I care about the tiny Republic of Togo. Gah it all makes me ill.
I've considered returning to the armed madhouse that is America over this, where I can at least maintain my freedom of speech and conscience before whatever variation of slavering USian corporate-government orcs—agribusiness, pharma, health insurance cartels, the for-profit prison complex, who knows—eventually make a stew of me. I don't want to, though. I want the safe and beautiful country of friendly people it seemed I was living in when I first arrived here. Watching this stuff happening to Ireland is like witnessing the scouring of the Shire.
There are those who recognize the base narrative, but they are rarely if ever found in public commentary. I can not recommend too highly a recent wake up call by Diana Pasulka. Her book, "American Cosmic," should be considered mandatory reading by anyone sober about the future.
There is a prophecy from St. Malachy that before the end of the world, Ireland will sink beneath the waves. Not sunk yet, but metaphorically sinking, all things pass away.
American style immigration, really? The Euro-zone predates our ill-advised open borders thanks to our present Democratic administration. We got this open border stuff from across the pond in my opinion. Even Obama was deporter-in-chief back in the day. But somewhere along the way, his party quit believing in the rule of law as well as basic fairness to the typical play-by-the-rules immigrant who waits for years on end to land here legally. Trump, Kennedy and the Republican also-rans hold to a belief in national sovereignty. Biden & co are the outliers.
On Ireland’s authoritarian trajectory: this week emailed my former boss who lives in Shankill (south of Dublin) a parody meme about the Irish government imprisoning folks for unacceptable memes. Later I thought, oops.
Well, gee willikers, I take a nap, after feeding sheep and cattle, and I wake up to a shout-out by Paul. I really should sleep more often.