Supporting Friends Friday: Review of Rachel Fulton Brown and Dragon Common Room’s Centrism Games

After sitting with the copy on my nightstand since the book’s debut, I finally sat down and read Rachel Fulton Brown and Dragon Common Room‘s Centrism Games: A Modern Dunciad.  Having read it, my only regret is that I did not do so sooner.

A bit of background is in order:  Dr. Rachel Fulton Brown is a medievalist at the University of Chicago, and is known in our circles as a traditional Christian professor fighting against social justice indoctrination and infiltration of the humanities.

One wouldn’t think the more esoteric realm of medieval history would be a major battleground for the ultra-woke, but it makes sense:  the modern West is profoundly a product of the Middle Ages.  With that in mind, it becomes clear why the progressive revisionists wish to dominate the field:  in rewriting medieval history to fit their woke narrative, it makes the rest of their revisionist project—of casting all white, male, Christian endeavors as inherently wicked—that much easier.

Milo Yiannopoulos’s short book Medieval Rages: Why The Battle for Medieval Studies Matters to America, details that struggle in more detail.  I highly recommend picking it up, as it highlights the length to which the wokesters have gone to silence Dr. Brown.  Correspondingly, it demonstrates Dr. Brown’s incredible courage and fortitude—as well as her cleverly elfish responses to her critics.

Dr. Brown founded a Telegram chatroom, Dragon Common Room, to be a “a place for training in the arts of virtue and poetry. And mischief making for God. We fight the demons with laughter and wit.”  I participate infrequently in chat, but it has become one of my favorites on the platform.  In addition to fighting “demons with laughter and wit,” Dr. Brown and her merry band of righteous mischief-makers wrote, workshopped, edited, and compiled Centrism Games, releasing it as a handsome little volume consisting of seven poems of thirty stanzas each.

The seven poems constitute a mock-epic narrative, modeled after Alexander Pope’s satirical epic The Dunciad.  Whereas Pope’s Dunciad mocked the goddess “Dulness” and her agents, Centrism Games lampoons the goddess Fama—Fame—and her o’er eager knights

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Supporting Friends Friday: Jeremy Miles’s New Book is Out Now

One of the joys of blogging and creating is the opportunity to support my buddies’ work.  I’ve been blessed to be associated with quite a few prolific and ingenious individuals, and while I have spent many a Bandcamp Friday hawking my digital wares, I’m excited to take this Friday to showcase a friend’s work.

My real-life buddy Jeremy Miles (who also maintains a blog) has released his latest book of poetryHindsight: Poetry in 2020.  It’s available in paperback, hardcover, and Kindle editions, at (as of 8 June 2021) $15, $25, and $2.99, respectively.  I’ve ordered the paperback version and eagerly await its arrival.

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It is Finished?

Christians know that Christ uttered the words “It is finished” before temporarily giving up the ghost on Good Friday.  The “It” to which He referred was His Own Sacrifice for our sins.  Of course, Christ wasn’t and isn’t finished—He arose three days later, and He has promised to return again.  He’d finished the key moment of offering His Blood as atonement for our sins, but that closed one chapter and began a second, better one.

The question of completion is always an interesting one, especially for artists of every stripe.  My real-life buddy and poet Jeremy Miles wrote a post yesterday entitled “When Can You Call a Piece Finished?”  It’s an interesting reflection on some of the major questions that plague artists, chiefly “is the piece done” and “who am I to be putting this stuff out there?”

Like Jeremy with poetry, I’ve recently published a collection of absurdist short stories, The One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard.  I’m fairly shameless about self-promotion—why be shy about asking for money?—but I still have moments where I think, “is it really right for me to put out a collection of ridiculous stories I wrote in high school and college”?

Ultimately, I take Jeremy’s advice here:  “stop.”  That’s the same advice I’d give to my students, too, and to artists in general:  stop doubting yourself, and just do it.  In the world of music, the cardinal sin I see musicians commit is not charging enough for their time and talents.  Apparently, jazz pianist Thelonious Monk missed out on a lot of gigs because he demanded a fairly high rate for his playing.  That may have limited his exposure somewhat, but he knew what he was worth.

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TBT: The Creation of Culture

The theme of this Spring Break Week is short stories, but more deeply it’s that of culture generally.  Indeed, The Portly Politico has dedicated itself increasingly towards cultural, filmic, musical, and literary matters far more over the past few months than ever before, for a reason:  creating culture is far more powerful and interesting than largely meaningless squabbles over minute points of policy.  That’s not to say that politics aren’t important—at the local level it’s very important—but there’s not much we can do in a practical sense to sway the indifferent national government at this point.

Culture, on the other hand, is something we can proactively create and promulgate.  A major push on the traditional Right as of late has been to do just that:  create a compelling (counter?)culture to the prevailing popular culture of nihilism and materialism.  Rachel Fulton Brown’s Centrism Games: A Modern Dunciad, the product of her excellent Telegram chatroom Dragon Common Room, is one exquisite effort at creating (and reviving) a rich literary culture on the Right.  The collaborative nature of the work—RFB is the editor, with sections of the epic poem composed by different members of the chat—further highlights the proactive act of creation among like-minded individuals, each mixing their unique voices into a scathingly satirical blend.

My own book, The One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard: The Ultimate Flatfoot, is my own meager contribution to this new culture—a work so honestly reflective of my teenaged self, I didn’t even fix some of my collegiate typos!  It’s a bit postmodern and absurdist, but it at least gives a glimpse into the gradual transformation of one young creator (in this case, me!).

My music, too, is a humble contribution to cultural creation.  I’ve always thought of The Four Unicorns of the Apocalypse, in particular, as an eschatological statement of sorts.  At the very least, it attempts, musically, to reflect a civilization‘s fall into decadence and nihilism, before the cycle repeats.

But I digress.  For this week’s edition of TBT, I thought I’d do something I’ve never done before:  bring a post from my SubscribeStar page out from behind the paywall.

The occasion for writing this post—“The Creation of Culture“—was the release of my friend Jeremy Miles‘s collection of poetry, A Year of Thursday Nights.  Jeremy is no Right-wing traditionalist, but his collection is the result of a year of attending open mic nights and performing his (very entertaining) poems.  In essence, he created culture out of a vibrant community of artists and musicians, both chronicling and enhancing the performances that took place at a local coffee shop’s open mic night over the course of 2019.

But I’ve gone long enough in this rambling preamble (a “preramble?”).  Here is 25 January 2020’s “The Creation of Culture” (on SubscribeStar):

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Lazy Sunday XLVIII: Culture

A paradox of blogging is that the more I write, the more difficult (at least some weeks) it is to think up a good theme for Lazy Sunday.  Part of the problem is that the earliest editions often featured very broad categories; thus, the proliferation of “Part II” posts throughout.

Of course, that’s probably a problem for me, the writer.  You’re just looking to scan through a list of hyperlinks while enjoying your pre-church coffee (or—given my tardiness posting of late—your post-church nap).  Such is the nature of the relationship between creator and consumer—thirty minutes put into crafting a blog post equates to about thirty seconds of skimming.  But it’s worth it to have your eyeballs (eww…) for those thirty seconds!

On that note, I’m dedicating this week’s Lazy Sunday to matters of culture.  In compiling this short list of recent pieces, I came to realize that I way overuse the “culture” tag on my blog posts.  In my defense, I do so because I see most issues as cultural (or, even more deeply, theological and philosophical), rather than merely political or economical, in nature.  The major political battles we’re fighting in the West today are, at heart, about culture.

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The Creation of Culture

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

The impeachment trial rolls on, and continues to be so boring, even the senators involved were falling asleep.  I have a classic Boomer colleague with whom I share a classroom, and he has been following the impeachment with rapt attention, periodically bursting into fulminations that “both sides have already made up their minds!  They’re not even listening to each other.”

He’s a sweet man, so I bite my tongue.  The reason no one is listening is because the whole thing is patently a sham.  The process isn’t being taken seriously because it’s been cheapened:  it’s merely a lurid attempt—the latest in a long series—to undo the results of the 2016 election.

That deep division is so predictable at this point that it’s not even interesting anymore, even if it remains important.  But rather than dwell on the fundamental division between two diametrically opposed philosophies (and, in many ways, theologies), I want to devote today’s SubscribeStar Saturday post to something more positive.

I’ve been pondering lately the ways in which culture gets created.  So much of our current political battles are really, at heart, spiritual.  They are also cultural.  In essence, some people are allowed to have culture; others—straight white Christian men, for example—are not.  Never mind that straight (and a few gay) white Christian men gave us the greatest works of classical music, notions of liberty and self-government, and all sorts of other wonderful cultural products.

That’s not to say that other people can’t create culture.  Not at all.  Simply saying that Aristotle was a great thinker doesn’t diminish, say, the accomplishments of George Washington Carver.  But if we’re allowed to celebrate Carver as a black scientist, why can’t we celebrate, say, Mozart as an example of the greatness of Western Civilization?  Indeed, the greatness of Western Civilization is that its principles may have started in Europe, but are, in fact, universal:  George Washington Carver was able to conduct his peanut experiments awash in the intellectual ferment of Western culture.

But I digress.  A good friend of mine has written an excellent collection of poetry, A Year of Thursday Nights.  The poet, Jeremy Miles, collected the poems as he wrote and performed them at a local coffee shop’s open mic night nearly every Thursday night for a year.  The work is a powerful example of how culture—and a culture—gets created.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: O Holy Night

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

The unofficial theme of the blog this week has been Christmas music.  What better way to cap off the week than with a post about the best Christmas song ever written, Adolphe Adam’s “O Holy Night“?

Like its cousin “Silent Night,” the story of “O Holy Night” involves a village’s church organ.  In 1843, the church organ of the French village of Roquemaure had recently been renovated, so the parish priest asked a local wine merchant and poet, Placide Cappeau, to write a poem to commemorate the occasion.  That poem, “Cantique de Noël,” would be set to music a short time later by composer and music critic Adolphe Adam—and Christmas history would be made.

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