…Our goals and aims…Our philosophy of education…and other things…
To all of my former and current students, prospective readers, interested scholars, budding misanthropists, and future reactionaries standing athwart the tracks of history yelling stop, I say welcome. Welcome to what?, you ask. To where? To nowhere, of course. Cyberspace is, by definition–like the mind, and the world of ideas that it inhabits, and inhabits it–, an incorporeal realm, beyond space and time. (Once more, science is compelled to reach across the abyss to religion, her ancient foe.)
I am told that this is called a website (note that not even technophiles can forgo analogies and images–poetry, that is) and that what I am writing is a “blog”. That a devout anti-modernist should currently find himself preoccupied with the defining phenomenon of the twenty-first century, and a thing denominated by such a vulgar neologism, I take as proof indeed of the truth of Heraclitus’ doctrine of enantiodromia, the eventual conversion of everything into its opposite. When I build furniture, I use pre-industrial hand tools. Until last November, I thought a “blog” was an infectious disease (true, as it turns out), and a mere twenty years or so ago I was still typing my essays on a 1917 Underwood Standard. But I am no Luddite. The pearly gates of the blogosphere are beckoning, and I want in, along with everybody else.
There, however, the comparison must end. In these pages, dear reader, you will hear none of the blogosphere’s ubiquitous digital din. Attune your ears, instead, to the harmonies of another sphere….
Priceton.org will be a forum for contemplation and debate, free of the usual stultifying cant which Orwell described, in his ever-current phrase, as “the smelly little orthodoxies of the day”. Our watchword will be thoughtful anachronism. We will on occasion be compelled to address the passionate issues of the day, to be sure, but only in a manner that is dispassionate, untimely, and unfashionable. (For those who want up-to-the-minute analysis of the news, there is always CNN, Time, and the even more titularly current NOW.) We prefer to take a rather longer view, examining events with the eyes of the ages. Our model reporter will be Cicero’s Scipio Africanus (Maior), who looked down in amusement upon the ephemera of politics and history from the eternal stillness of the eighth sphere.
We write for the general reader, so long as his reading is informed by a sound education and an aptitude for rational thought. The target audience of Priceton.org is therefore necessarily small (perhaps fatally so), since one can be rational without being educated (most lawyers fall into this category) and well-educated without owning an ounce of common sense (the pervasive affliction of “intellectuals”). Some may regard our own style and perspective as hopelessly academic, but then we hardly expect to attract to these pages many professional academicians, whose success in the universities is usually a function of their innocence of both of the attributes mentioned above.
We promise analysis that is sane and unconventional. We do not aim deliberately to be “irreverent” (the juvenile pose of the herd of independent minds.) But, in this time of uniform opinion on practically everything, we will inevitably be thought so. In due course, it is the ambition of Priceton.org to line up the smelly little orthodoxies of the day one by one, strip them naked, march them to the showers, hose them down, and dress them in motley for your sport.
What we hope to resuscitate at Priceton.org, and concomitantly at Priceton University, is an ancient and salubrious habit of mind: the grateful celebration of the religious, intellectual, and artistic heritage of the West for its own sake, and as an invaluable instrument for the critical evaluation of the uncritical assumptions and barbarous tastes of the present age.
We remain agnostic toward the modern dogma of the historical inevitability of progress (except perhaps in the fields of science and technology): the popular view that things are always better today than they were yesterday, that our laws and social arrangements are more equitable, our political systems more just, our citizens more tolerant and enlightened, our children better educated, our sages wiser, and our art more beautiful. Alas, the evidence does not support such self-congratulatory fictions. To the current generation of chronological jingoists, we say that it is time to break up the group hug. Time to cease staring in supine admiration at your own images in the reflecting pool. As a bracing tonic against the heady delusion of progress, we recommend one of the ancient myths of the steady and inexorable decline of civilization (the biblical doctrine of the Fall, perhaps, or the classical fable of the metallic ages) which are, in most cases, more predictive of historical reality, and more conducive to moral and mental sanity.