Category Archives: Literature

St. John’s: The Most Rigorous College In America & What Every Young Mind Needs

Education, Human Accomplishment, Intellectualism, Intelligence, Literature, Logic

According to data reported by Tucker, only 31 percent of Americans who graduate from college can read a complex text/book.

By the same data’s telling, American kids are the dumbest in the developed world (facts I was reporting 14 years ago, already. In addition to the two hyperlinks provided, click “Education” to go back in time).

While our kids know less and less, their grades are only getting higher. The vaunted GPA is meaningless, except to give an idea of a student’s grades in relation to the inflated marks of his peers.

The most common grade given (the statistical mode?) in American college courses is an … “A.” “Forty-three percent of all letter grades are As.”

An exception to the rule is St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico (there is a Campus in Annapolis, MD, too), whose core curriculum is centered around what we call The Western Canon:

The great books (and works of art and music) upon which nobody contemporary has improved. (Everybody needs to be humbled by these works. I recently read some Plato abbreviated, after which I felt very small indeed. It’s all been said and thought-out before by the Greats. For example, an insight articulated and carefully thought-out in Into The Cannibal’s Pot; it was there. Plato said it already. Of course I was chuffed; it felt good. But how sad that this heritage—and with it the humility that comes with a recognition of true genius—is not being handed down.)

The video begins 4:22 minutes into the Tucker segment. (Tucker is a gem. The only gem on Fox News.)

St. John’s College admits only 800 and is producing the renaissance men and women of America.

ALL “freshmen must learn ancient Greek. ALL seniors struggle with quantum physics, along the way, as do they have to grapple with calculus, learn how to do differential equations, study Hegel and Kierkegaard, Karl Marx and Adam Smith.”

“St. John’s is sailing against every trend in American higher education.”

Their “students read 200 serious books over the course of their education.”

Only 800 students qualify in admission and all must undergo this rigor.

This is the traditional liberal arts education that our greatest minds (thinkers, scientists, Founding Fathers) would have undergone 100 plus years ago. (Was not Thomas Jefferson a scientist and a philosopher and an all-round genius? Indeed he was.)

It’s an all-required curriculum. Everyone is required to take courses of equal rigor. There are no majors, no minors. No hiding. No skewing the grades Bell Curve.

Minds thus enriched can go on to become whatever they want, having been given the intellectual wherewithal to think, and the tools to both appreciate intellectual history, draw on it and from it.

American education is an exercise in egalitarian idiocy. In my option, educational egalitarianism and idiocy does the greatest harm to the gifted child.

And isn’t that the aim? To give all children the feeling they are equally gifted?

Ultimately, wonderful young minds should not be abandoned to the evaluation standards of what are mostly sub-intelligent, near-illiterate educrats, who’ve been disseminating dumbed-down subject matter, in institutions of “learning” in which everyone is a winner.

 

UPDATED (3/12): About ‘Sea Changes,’ A Magnificent Immigration Novel (And The Mercer ‘MeToo’ Moment)

Britain, Culture, English, Ethics, Europe, Ilana Mercer, IMMIGRATION, Intellectualism, Literature

My friend, British author Derek Turner, will have to forgive me. This discursive post, my second about his superb novel, Sea Changes (here’s the first), begins with … me. I guess women are having a reckoning of sorts. Mine is quite a bit different. But I, too, have had a “Me Too” moment, albeit intellectual, not sexual (true traditionalists consider the latter a private matter).

Part of an ancient “Me Too” aphorism by the great Rabbi Hillel says this:

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

So, here I go.

Over the 20 years in which I’ve out-written most weekly columnists of my philosophical stripe, only a handful of individuals on the Old Right have publicly expressed respect for- and intellectual honesty about my work. Mr. Turner, the gentleman under review, for one. Another is a younger newcomer, the wonderful Jack Kerwick, a man with a moral compass. Still another is Ron Unz, the first publisher (other than the ever fearless WND) on the hard right to feature my weekly column, without any censure or reservation. (Some of the old chaps won’t even follow me on Twitter, or pretend I don’t exist. Shame. Poor things. Reality bites.) The last, for now, is Tom DiLorenzo, a friend forever. Bill Scott, crusader against police brutality, is a gem of a friend, too.

Check the comments on the Unz Review. The same readers who prostrate themselves to the male writers (fluffy, wordy waffling from the old boys, notwithstanding) hate on Mercer, who happens to be the only featured female columnist on the Unz Review. As I surmised, this is Small Man syndrome.

Bring it.

Yes, the Mercer column is outré, but its quality, philosophical consistency and powers of prediction ought to have secured it a regular slot, given its fiercely anti-war stance, on prominent libertarian and paleoconservative sites.

On the bright side, the attitude to my work over 20 years from these quarters has been the best proof of its quality. In this context, I am reminded of another gifted Brit (Derek Turner is English), comedian Alexei Sayle. When asked what he does when he watches a really talented, young satirist performing, Sayle replied with brutal self-deprecation: “I go back stage and tell him he’ll never make it.”

On the other hand, the German Right doesn’t seem to have an intellectual-honesty issue when it comes to my work. They have generally sought me out (the Mercer column was a regular on Junge Freiheit). And in a justly glowing review of Derek’s book, Sea Changes, an Alt-Right reviewer says this:

“Ilana Mercer, author of a book on Trump and renowned conservative intellectual, praised Sea Changes for its analysis of the prospects for the West and the necessity of defence.”

The German writer quotes a section of my fabulous advance praise. I excerpt the rest, because amidst billowing verbiage from others, I believe I succinctly captured the novel’s essence best (alas, the Mercer blurb, predictably, didn’t make it onto Amazon):

“Well written, meticulously researched and thought out, Sea Changes, Derek Turner’s first novel, succeeds mightily in bringing to life the prototypical players in the Western tragedy that is mass migration. The reader becomes intimately au fait with the many, oft-unwitting actors in this doomed stand-off: small-town conservative folks vs. progressive city slickers; salt-of-the-earth countrymen against smug, self-satisfied left-liberals. Ever present are the ruthless traffickers in human misery: both media and smugglers. Like it or not, the dice are loaded. In this epic battle, the scrappy scofflaws and their stakeholders triumph; the locals lose.”

Back to the German reviewer:

“What Jean Raspail started with Camp of the Saints and Michel Houellebecq continued with Submission has now been carried forward. The latest novel to hit the German market borrows from both of these books and carries them forward. Sea Changes by Derek Turner is now available for purchase. The novel provides an overview of events and inside them the story of the long, slow suicide of a European nation. Whether England, France or Germany, the situation is the same. The problem is ‘refugees’ and their quite understandable search for a better life. The theme of the book is how a truly arrogant elite ignore reality because it is obsessed by ‘diversity’ and ‘tolerance’. The novel shows the reality of the unchallenged multiculturalist establishment. ….”

[SNIP]

Another aspect about Derek’s book that I liked a lot (it went unnoticed by other “male” reviewers): Sea Changes is manly in that Derek packed it with details about masonry, weaponry and history. The book is technically dense. I like that. Other nerds will enjoy that aspect, too.

Sea Changes by Derek Turner is available on Amazon.

UPDATE (3/12): Lookie here. I found Mercer male hounding from 2006: “How Sexist Are Libertarian Men?

Jennifer Rubin Is A Rubbishy Writer

Bush, Conservatism, English, Literature, Neoconservatism

This New York Review of Books reviewer suggests that the tedious neoconservative, Jennifer Rubin, made prominent for her banality, is reminiscent of the late Molly Ivins, who was an old-school, acerbic, liberal columnist.

Rubbish.

Ivins coined memorable monikers for George Bush such as “Shrub” and “Dubya.”

Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol was a neoconservative writer, organizer, and theorist for a quarter-century, at the barricades on controversies from health care reform to the Iraq War (he was also the most important promoter of Sarah Palin, who embodied Trumpism before Trump became Trump). Now he regularly issues withering tweets about Trump and is a fixture on the liberal-leaning MSNBC. The foreign policy writer Max Boot was a vocal and at times strident champion of the Bush Doctrine. These days he’s a ferocious and shrewd critic of the president. Washington Post blogger-columnist Jennifer Rubin was, among prominent conservative pundits, probably Mitt Romney’s most aggressive defender in 2012 and aside from that was known for her hard-line foreign policy views, particularly on matters relating to Israel. Now, her columns often read as if they could have been written by the late Molly Ivins. (Two recent Rubin headlines: “Trump Retreats on Iran, and He Will Need to Do So Again”; “The Enablers of the Racist President Are Back at It.”)

David Frum is also a much better writer than Israel Firster, Ms. Rubin.

MORE.

George Orwell’s “1984” And The “Must Topple” List

America, Communism, Free Speech, History, Left-Liberalism, Literature, States' Rights

FROM George Orwell’s “1984”: “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day-by-day and minute-by-minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

Must topple” is courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.