Justin Smith-Ruiu

Ephemera, 8/31/23

Justin E. H. Smith in his meandering essay on Generation X:

“In order to be a suitable candidate for redemption, a being must of course be flawed. It was long thought that to be this way was simply the general condition of humanity, but today, if you were to seek to learn about our peculiar species by studying the daily tide of social-media discourse, you could easily come away with the impression that it is the condition of only some people (roughly half of them) while the rest are consistently righteous … To identify some work of art, literature, or entertainment as problematic is not overtly to seek to censor, nor to call categorically for moral condemnation. It is simply to taint public perception, to inform readers or viewers that enjoyment of the work in question will likely result in some sort of subtle social sanctioning. It is a weasel word, employed by people who lack not only the courage of their convictions but also anything beyond convictions … “

* * * *

Along those lines, this piece claims to be against the “binary” of good and bad books, but it seems actually to be about the need for people to be nicer to other people when talking about the books they like. Ok, sure. Essentially another entry in the modern dominant genre of discourse, which can be described as, “I’m not an asshole, but boy, what about those other assholes, huh?”

There remains, in fact, good and bad (and mediocre) literature; I’ve hated some good, loved some bad, and passed the time with (and written) some mediocre. Also, the thing about human beings (see Smith’s quote above) is that we’re all assholes.

* * * *

Minor housekeeping note: since my series of notes on Ellul’s Presence in the Modern World is spiralling out of control, I’ve created a series page listing them in chronological order, including the corresponding page numbers in the book. You can also access the series from the Archives page, and in the header to each series post, which lists the number.

Ephemera, 07/27/23

This starts out interesting and ends in complete and total absurdity. Yes: stop whining on your Discord server, go to your local parish, and say, “If everyone is welcome, then welcome me and people like me.” Uh, no: don’t chase people out of the parish and onto the sidewalk while screaming, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”

Seriously, people. The return of orthodoxy to the Episcopal Church will depend upon the young gay priests who are right now demanding it, and who know what it actually means to be credally orthodox. (Hint: Leviticus 18 and its admonition against having sex with women while they are menstruating didn’t make the final cut on any of the creeds.)

* * * *

“When I go to a great bookstore, which, to me, is like a cathedral, I feel the need to tithe.” Sigh, me too. (Chris Vognar)

* * * *

“We eggheads used to understand that art is the best hope we have in this low world for a truly autonomous sphere, and that this autonomy is nowhere pushed further than in the productions of the avant-garde. Accordingly, avant-garde artists rejected mass entertainments, or at least did not engage with them as if they were the best thing on offer … In fact the sorry truth is that they may well be the best thing on offer, simply because the forces that produced them have absolutely bulldozed the last surviving hopes for art as a sphere of autonomous creation.” (Justin Smith-Ruiu; used to be Justin E. H. Smith, not exactly sure what happened there)