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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Monday Morning Movie Review: Witness (1985)

Just to prove that I don’t just watch cheesy horror movies (and that Hulu actually has more to offer than such films), this Monday I’m reviewing something a bit different:  the 1985 neo-noir Amish thriller Witness, starring Harrison Ford as Detective John Book, a clean cop hiding from his dirty colleagues in Pennsylvania’s Amish Country.

The movie is unique in that it contrasts the grittiness of the city with the tranquility and traditions of Amish country life.  There seemed to be a vague cultural fascination with the Amish that lasted from the 1980s up to around the turn of the century (take, for example, 1996’s Kingpin or Weird Al’s hit “Amish Paradise” from the same year).  The Amish are, indeed, interesting, but I’m not sure what accounts for this brief, generational curiosity in the rural pacifists.

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Mississippi Meanderings

At the tail end of 2020—and into the New Year—I visited the small town of Lucedale, Mississippi, to meet my girlfriend’s family.  I flew in last Wednesday and we drove back Saturday.

I’ve driven through Mississippi before, and was in Jackson a couple of years ago for a friend’s wedding.  This time I was much further south, as Lucedale—located in George County—is very close to the Gulf Coast, and about fifty minutes from Mobile, Alabama.  It reminded me a great deal of my dear South Carolina—pine trees and deciduous forests; ample farmland; small, rural communities flung across open land between larger municipalities.  In many ways, it felt like my home, just with small regional variations.

For example, my girlfriend’s family eats black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, like any good Southerner does (for them, the black-eyed peas represent good luck; for us, they represent pennies and wealth), but instead of collard greens (also for wealth—they’re the dollars), they ate coleslaw.  I suspect that’s because none of her family liked collard greens, but the difference goes further:  my girlfriend’s father had never heard of Hoppin’ John.  For my Yankee readers, Hoppin’ John is a mixture usually consisting of black-eyed peas, tomatoes, and okra, and served over white rice.  It’s good.

Other than a world without Hoppin’ John, Mississippi also had some local chains I’d never heard of before.  My girlfriend’s mother kept raving about Dirt Cheap, which I think is like a Lowe’s-meets-Ollie’s that sells mostly “dirt cheap” home improvement supplies.  There’s also a regional chain called Foosackly’s, which is essentially a smaller-scale Zaxby’s with clever advertising and a hilariously bizarre name.  My girlfriend quickly became annoyed with my fascination with this obscure chicken joint.

One highlight of the trip was building a fire with my girlfriend’s dad.  He is a man of few words, clad in suspenders, and incredibly resourceful—he maintains much of their land himself, and has built several sheds and garages.  He also has added to their home, which has been in the family at least two generations, and will stay there (his mantra:  “never sell land”).

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Lazy Sunday XCIII: 2020’s Top Five Posts

It’s the last Sunday of 2020, so in keeping with last year’s tradition, today’s Lazy Sunday is dedicated to reviewing the Top Five posts (in terms of views) for 2020.

The posts below are not the top five in terms of views all-time.  Instead, I’m featuring the top five published in 2020.  Indeed, there were several posts from 2019 that blew these out of the water (all view totals are at the time of writing, 22 December 2020):  “Tom Steyer’s Belt” (2864 views), “Napoleonic Christmas” (295 views), “Christmas and its Symbols” (212 views), and others.

So, again, these are the Top Five Posts of 2020, published in 2020.  All numbers are as of 22 December 2020, so there could be some shifts:

1.) “The Cultural Consequences of the American Civil War” (254 views) – This post was adapted from a lengthy comment I made on a post at Nebraska Energy Observer, “What Do You Think?” by Audre Myers.  The comment sparked some good feedback, so I made it into a post.  Rachel Fulton Brown shared the post on her Telegram chat and her personal Facebook page, which really boosted the numbers.  The post discusses the oft-forgotten cultural and spiritual consequences of the Confederate loss to Yankee materialist imperialism.  I’m no closeted Neo-Confederate, but I tried to offer up a nuanced take on the downside to Union victory, and what was lost when the South fell.

2.) “Thalassocracy” (201 views) – This post really surprised me with its success.  I wrote it mostly as an after-thought—the situation with many posts when I’m churning out daily material—but the topic interested me.  Based on the limited search term information WordPress gives me, it turns out that many people were searching the unusual term for the same reason I was:  the video game Stellaris.  In searching for the meaning of “thalassocracy,” I stumbled upon a lengthy essay on the fragility of thalassocracies—nations and empires that build their fortunes on naval prowess, rather than substantial ground forces.  It’s an interesting (and long) essay, but hopefully my humble post sums it up well enough.

3.) “You Can’t Cuck the Tuck III: Liberty in The Age of The Virus” (87 views) – As you can see from the numbers, the posts begin dropping off a bit in views from here on out, though I consider anything over fifty views pretty solid for this humble blog.  This piece explored the destruction of liberties in The Age of The Virus, something that I find has occurred with shocking ease, and which continues to ever more ludicrous extremes.

4.) “Big Deal” (78 views) – This post was about Joe Rogan’s move to Spotify, and his own implicit sell-out to social justice cuckery.  I can’t account for its mild popularity, other than it was a timely post that touched on a widespread sentiment on the Right.

5.) “The God Pill, Part II” (76 views) – This piece reviewed former pick-up artist Roosh V’s dramatic conversion to Orthodox Christianity (covered in “The God Pill“; read the whole series here), and his decision to unpublish his bestseller, Game.  That decision has really cost him financially—he recently took a gig doing construction work in Alabama for a few weeks, and is apparently back living with his parents in Maryland—but it was the right move spiritually.  Many thought Roosh was converting as a way to reinvent himself to make an extra buck, but he really seems to be putting his faith first.  Kudos to him.

That’s it!  It’s hard to believe another year is in the books.  Thanks to everyone for reading, and for your ongoing support.  It can be difficult to maintain the pace of posting at times, but your feedback and comments really keep me going.

God Bless—and Happy New Year!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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Flashback Friday: Christmas and its Symbols

It’s Christmas!  Another magical day to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

2020 was a tough year, but Christ is mightier than The Virus.  Thank God—literally!—for sending His Son.

Have a wonderful, safe, loving Christmas Day.  God Bless all of your for your support and generosity, and for being such amazing readers.

Here’s 25 December 2019’s “Christmas and its Symbols“:

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TBT: Christmas Eve

Here we are—another Christmas Eve.  It’s a night full of magic, mysticism, and wonder—the Light and holy version of Halloween, when the tenuous division between our corporeal existence and the supernatural world is thin.

Last year I wrote of my family’s Christmas Eve traditions, which are changing up a bit again this year.  In lieu of the usual evening candlelight service, we’re going to an afternoon service at a church in my younger brother’s neck of the woods.  Afterwards, we’ll be enjoying Chinese food—a newer tradition for us—and some fondue, a tradition from my sister-in-law’s side of the family.  We’re beginning to sound like 1970s Jews on Christmas.

Here’s wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas tomorrow—and some Christmas Eve merriment tonight!  With that, here is 24 December 2019’s “Christmas Eve“:

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Midweek Movie Review: Fatman (2020)

Being Christmastime, it seems like the season for reviewing holiday classics. That said, I’ve never been one for Christmas movies in general, with the exception of off-beat films related to the holiday.

For example, I consider Die Hard (1988) a Christmas movie—perhaps the best Christmas movie—as well as Gremlins (1984).  But other than It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), of which I have fond memories of watching at my late grandfather’s house late one Christmas night as a child, I don’t tend to go for sappy Hallmark Channel Christmas movies (sorry, Dad).

There is now a new addition to that list:  2020’s Fatman, starring Mel Gibson as a jaded Santa Claus with business problems—and a price on his head.

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Where the Right Goes From Here

Lest I be cast as a “doomer”—one who has given up on President Trump’s noble attempt to win the re-election that is rightfully is—it seems likely that our ruling elites will assure Biden wins the presidency.  I still believe that Trump is the rightful victor; that the election was stolen from him; and that the evidence of widespread voter fraud is compelling enough to throw, at the very least, the election to the House of Representatives.

Remember, we live in a world that still argues that John F. Kennedy’s campaign did not manipulate vote totals in Cook County, Illinois to flip the State away from Nixon in 1960, thereby assuring Kennedy’s victory.  What we saw in 2020 was the Cook County strategy writ large.  We should fight that manipulation to ensure the integrity of future elections, but I fear the damage is done.

Again, I hold out hope that Trump will be vindicated and that justice will be served.  Nevertheless, as conservatives, we should adopt the distinctly conservative course of preparing for what comes next.  Even if our dream scenario comes to fruition, it only buys conservatives time.  Either way, we’ve got to consider seriously where we’re going, and our place in a society that increasingly rejects us and our interests.

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What is Civilization?

This morning while getting ready for work I listened to a fascinating discussion between Milo Yiannopoulos and “groypers” Steven Franssen and Vincent James.  I don’t know much about Franssen and James, other than that they are fairly prominent figures on the Dissident Right, but the discussion (which is available at Censored.TV to subscribers—I highly recommend forking over the $10 a month for a subscription) covered a broad range of topics, from 9/11 to the future of America and traditionalism.

Out of that far-ranging discussion came a brief debate between Milo and his guests near the end of the exchange.  The gist of it boiled down to the question “what is civilization?”  Milo’s contention—an interesting one—is that by abandoning our cities, we are, essentially, abandoning our greatest cultural products:  our art, our architecture, our institutions.  These cultural artifacts took the blood, sweat, toil, and ingenuity of the American people to build, so we’re capitulating to the Leftist mobs when we flee our cities instead of fighting for them.

In true Milo fashion, it’s a compellingly contrarian argument:  why surrender what we fought so hard to build?  I am a big advocate of normal, decent folks abandoning the cities in search of a better life in the country (to the point I think we should consider subsidizing families in rural areas), but makes a strong case.  If we want to preserve our heritage, we shouldn’t hand it over to looters.

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