April 18, 2015

Now Playing

(Reviewed August 29, 2014)

A portrait of modern sanctity which — very oddly, in my view — asks not to be taken too seriously

(Reviewed August 27, 2014)

The movie it took twelve years to make — about a childhood that appears to be taking much, much longer

America: Imagine the World Without Her
(Reviewed July 31, 2014)

Another foray by Dinesh D’Souza into the lists in order to break a lance on President Obama — and Howard Zinn. At least the latter is effectively unhorsed.

(Reviewed June 30, 2014)

An austerely beautiful film by the Anglo-Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski that could hardly be a greater departure from his earlier My Summer of Love

ENTRY from March 23, 2015

Peter Tait, the Headmaster of Sherborne Preparatory School in England — where, by the way, a preparatory school is one that prepares children to take at age 13 the "Common Entrance" exam into that special class of private schools that can call themselves "public"— wrote an article for The Daily Telegraph the other day insisting that "we should be teaching morals and ethics in our schools."

We live in an age of everyone for themselves to lesser or greater degree and we’re not going to change that while the public conscience is unregulated, at least not without a significant moral shift. The current focus on mindfulness on happiness, on well-being and on character is all very well, but there is a more fundamental challenge for our schools. . . .We cannot put everyone in a single moral universe but we can teach them about cause and consequence, about the value of charity and community and about having values that are not able to be measured in material terms alone. Before talking of developing grit and resilience, we should be offering the children in our schools an education in morals and values for that would underpin their lives like nothing else.

My first thought on reading this regrettably vague prescription (which morals? which values apart from charity and community? and, for that matter, which community?) was to ask why we can’t just teach them to care what people think of them? Or, since that was never formerly something that had to be taught, why not at least stop teaching them that it’s somehow shameful to care what people think of them and honorable not to care?
  Full Entry

Media MadnessMy book Media Madness, is available for order from Encounter Books. Less a polemic than an attempt to understand the origins of the mass media’s folie de grandeur, the book is a warning even to those who are deserting the big networks, newsweeklies and large-circulation dailies not to carry with them into the more attractive world of niche media the undisciplined habits of thought that the old media culture has given rise to. To order this book, click here.

Honor, A HistoryAlso available, now in paperback, is Honor, A History, which was first published in 2006. A study of Western cultural artifacts, from the epics of Homer to the movies and TV shows of today, it is focused on explaining why Western ideas of honor developed so differently from those elsewhere — and especially from the savage honor cultures of the Islamic world. The book then goes on to trace the collapse and ultimate rejection of the old Western honor culture from World War I until the present day and to suggest the conditions that would have to prevail for its revival.

Recent Articles

The New Rules of Journalism February 28, 2015.
The old maxim about not picking fights with those who buy ink by the barrel doesn’t apply to dictators or terrorists — From The New Criterion of February, 2015 ... Full Article

Heads Over Heels February 16, 2015.
Decapitation in the good old days — From The Weekly Standard of February 16, 2015 ... Full Article

Irony, in context January 31, 2015.
How the media have helped to make us all the prisoners of our social and political contexts — From The New Criterion of January, 2015 ... Full Article

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