The Diversity Cult, Georgia O’Keeffe in Hawaii, and a Defense of Classical Liberalism

Apparently, the only thing that matters anymore is diversity. Lionel Shiver writes about Penguin Random House’s new diversity goals in Spectator: “I’d been suffering under the misguided illusion that the purpose of mainstream publishers like Penguin Random House was to sell and promote fine writing. A colleague’s forwarded email has set me straight.”

Dominic Green remembers John Julius Norwich: “I never met Norwich, but it was through him that I first met the Norman knights of Sicily, the merchants and mariners of the Venetian republic, and the emperors and bishops of Byzantium. Later, he introduced me to the saints and sinners of the papacy, and the poets and painters of Victorian Venice too. Writers learn by reading other writers, and reading Norwich is a masterclass.”

Georgia O’Keeffe in Hawaii: “O’Keeffe is so closely associated with the American Southwest in the popular imagination that it is hard to envision her in anything other than the ascetic setting of New Mexico and its desert. Yet, in 1939, in the face of opposition from her husband and mentor Alfred Stieglitz, O’Keeffe accepted a commission from a New York advertising firm, N. W. Ayer & Son. The commission was to travel (all expenses paid) to the Hawaiian Islands and paint scenes for a pineapple juice promotional campaign. Stieglitz objected that serious artists didn’t accept commercial work; O’Keeffe, however, was won over by the glowing brochures about a still relatively remote tropical paradise.”

Is it still AC/DC if you replace every member but one? Scot Bertram reviews Steven Hyden’s Twilight of the Gods.

A new particle—a sterile neutrino—may have been discovered: “‘I’m very excited about this result, but I am not ready to say “Eureka!”’ said Janet Conrad, a neutrino physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the MiniBooNE collaboration.”

Author receives $2 million advance for a fictionalized account of the publication of Doctor Zhivago.

Essay of the Day:

In National Review, Vincent Phillip Muñoz writes in defense of classical liberalism and the American experiment:

“The Founders well understood that every generation would need to be taught to use its freedom well, which is why they sought to cultivate virtue through education and religion. (Thomas G. West in his excellent new book, The Political Theory of the American Founding, skillfully documents the Founders’ efforts.) They did not embrace Aristotle’s teachings that the purpose of politics is to make men virtuous and that law should be used to coercively habituate moral virtue, but they did understand that their constitutional republic would depend on virtue for its success. ‘Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People,’ John Adams stated. ‘It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.’ This is why America is an experiment: Can a free people remain sufficiently virtuous to maintain, and deserve to maintain, their freedom?

“If we Americans are no longer sufficiently virtuous, the fault lies primarily with us, not our founding principles. Our political and economic institutions have never been perfect, but (aside from slavery and its legacies, perhaps) they have never been so corrupt that they have made virtuous living impossible. Original sin may make corruption probable, and political liberty may make it possible; but the causes of America’s problems lie primarily in the poor choices we have made.

“That means the solution to our problem lies, to a large extent, in our choices. To choose well, we must regain both political wisdom and the character that befits a constitutional people. Reacquaintance with our actual liberal principles and a return to belief in the existence of an obligatory moral law are essential.

“The latter may require a reemergence of religious belief, especially among the cultural elite where it has precipitously declined. The necessity of morality for liberal democracy, and of religion for morality, cannot be understated. As Tocqueville recognized, religion is the first of America’s political institutions. It teaches us to respect the equality of all individuals and provides the grounds for moderation and self-restraint, both individually and communally.”

Read the rest.

Photo: Li river

Poem: Richard O’Connell, “Prospero”

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