Posts Tagged ‘Russell Kirk’

The Culture Alliance’s latest in its work fostering a culture of liberty and personal responsibility in America brings readers news, opinion, reviews and excerpts from the world of popular fiction.

On Friday of each week, subscribers to TCA’s Weekly Update will receive the latest in reviews, excerpts, news and opinion concerning the world of novels and short stories. American society is besieged by a plethora of fiction tending to promote the modern zeitgeist – a relativistic, secular, antinomian worldview. TCA’s Fiction Friday is inspired by the idea that a culture of liberty will flounder without a well-nourished moral imagination.

Citing Russell Kirk’s essay “The Age of Sentiments,” Vigen Guroian writes,

Kirk advanced further his thoughts on the crisis of the moral imagination. In this intriguing essay, he argues that the Age of Discussion, which grew from the Enlightenment and earmarked modernity, is all but over. We are entering a new era in civilization, Kirk advises, where sentiments rule—indeed, we are entering the Age of Sentiments. And this momentous shift in mind and sensibility requires new cultural strategies for the nurture of the moral imagination.

Nothing enriches the moral imagination like a good story. T. S. Eliot noted, in his essay “Religion and Literature,”

The author of a work of imagination is trying to affect us wholly, as human being, whether he knows it or not; and we are effected by it wholly, as human beings, whether we intend to be or not. I suppose that everything we eat has some effect upon us other than merely the pleasure of taste and mastication; it affects us during the process of assimilation and digestion; and I believe that exactly the same is true of anything we read.

He went on to note that even what some might consider trivial works of pop culture can be the most significant when it comes to influencing our imagination. “I incline to the shocking conclusion,” Eliot wrote,

that it is just the literature that we read for amusement, or purely for pleasure, that may have the greatest and least suspected influence upon us. It is literature we read with the least effort that can have the easiest and most insidious influence upon us. Hence it is that the influence of popular novelists, and of popular playwrights of contemporary life, requires to be scrutinized most closely.

A few will seek out Shakespeare, Dante, Virgil, etc. for their pleasure reading, but when it comes to reading “for amusement” the majority will get the latest bestseller or mass-market paperback.
Therefore, rather than leaving it to the advertising divisions of some New York publishing house promoting work that meets with liberal sensibilities, we wanted to offer readers some alternatives they might have missed. TCA seeks to shed light on that which the publishing worlds’ powers-that-be neglect because it does not fit their presuppositions. We also want those who desire a culture of liberty and personal responsibility to have a reading list that goes beyond the latest polemics produced by Regnery Publishing, Encounter Books, etc. Perhaps, in time, we may inspire those few houses, like Regnery or Encounter to begin feeding their customer’s moral imagination with some well crafted fiction.

TCA’s Fiction Friday inaugural issue included S.T. Karnick’s review of The Red Right Hand, an excerpt from Richard Doster’s latest novel Crossing the Lines, and links to numerous stories from the world of novels and short stories including:

The following from R.V. Young’s, A Student’s Guide to Literature, included in Fiction Friday’s first issue, notes the central role fiction plays in “the transmission of culture throughout the history of Western Civilization”

A successful poem or story compels our attention and seizes us with a sense of its reality, even while we know that it is essentially (even when based upon historical fact) something made up – a fiction. The most memorable works of literature are charged with significance and cry out for understanding, reflection, interpretation; but this meaning carries most conviction insofar as it is not explicit – not paraded with banners flying and trumpets blaring. “We hate poetry that has a palpable design upon us,” says John Keats. The role of literature in society is similarly equivocal. It can be explained simply as entertainment or recreation; men and women have always told stories ans sung songs to amuse themselves, to pass the time, to lighten the burden of “real life.” At the same time, literature has assumed a central place in education and the transmission of culture throughout the history of Western civilization, contributing  a sense of communal identity and shaping both individual and social understanding of human experience. The intimate part played by literature in cultural tradition has been a source of alarm to moralists and reformers from Plato to the media critics and multiculturalists of our own day.

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used-booksConservative book buyers seem to have the attention span of gnat on Ritalin. A radio talk show host’s face on a book’s dustjacket attracts them like bees to pollen. They immediately jump online or rush to a Big Box Bookstore to pick up the latest conservative polemic (and then complain about liberal control of bookstores because they can’t find what they want). Once they’ve had their fill of one title, off they go to gobble up another.

Conservative Publishers, like Regnery, will produce thousands of copies of the latest conservative shot in the punditry wars. More left-leaning Publishing houses (which means almost everyone other than Regnery and Encounter) may be slower in getting titles to market, but one way or another thousands of copies are on bookstore shelves. Eventually, numerous unsold or used copies of these political potboilers end up lingering in remainder and half-price stacks, unread and forgotten. Write a book extolling the virtues of feminized men or do-it-yourself spirituality and, while you may no longer collect royalties on it, you will certainly keep used-book sellers in business. Conservative books … eh, not so much. Are conservaive bookbuyers afraid of used bookstores? (more…)

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Norman Rockwell's "Freedom of Speech"

Norman Rockwell's "Freedom of Speech"

Will you only talk to a “progressive” if you must? Do you fear speaking out against Big Government Talking Points promulgated by the Main Stream Media? Are you worried that the liberal-left’s invincible ignorance will spin you into fits of rage? Are you concerned that a conversation with a knee-jerk lefty will turn into an epithet filled, spittle drenched tirade labeling you a bigot, racist, sexist, “homophobe”, “Islamophobe”, “xenophobe” or fascist? To quote the “progressive’s” Big Government secular saint, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

I walked the dog to a small coffee shop in my North Seattle neighborhood, on a beautiful Sunday morning (we do have those now and again in Seattle), and splurged on a Ham and Cheese croissant and medium latte (I refuse to knuckle under to ridiculous habit of calling a medium, a “tall”. It is Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large. Anything else is idiotic pretentiousness.). I sat down with my copy of Russell Kirk’s The American Cause and “The Wall Street Journal”. Little did I know I would be offered two chances to proselytize conservative values. One chance concerned the Right to own and bear a firearm. The other concerned taxation. (more…)

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