Roland in Moonlight

In my dream, I had just entered the sitting room of my house. It was still several hours before dawn, but music was quietly playing: I heard the last lines and fading chords of Schubert’s “Der Leiermann,” in the recent recording by Jonas Kaufmann, before silence fell. I was confused at first, but I soon spied my dog, Roland, sitting on the carpet in front of the large bay-window seat, staring out into the night. A soft, pure lunar light, shredded by the pine branches outside the glass into long glistening ribbons of pale silvery blue, poured gently into the room and over his mottled fur of white, brindled brown, and cobalt gray, and for a few moments it almost seemed as if he were himself little more than a pattern of shadows and moonlight. The illusion vanished, however, when he turned his head and held me for an instant in the cool gleam of his eyes, before returning his gaze to the window. “I’m sorry,” he said in that warmly resonant voice of his (so hauntingly similar to Laurence Harvey’s). “Did the singing rouse you? I thought I had the volume down low enough to disturb no one.” Continue Reading »

ISI’s Paolucci Book Award

ISI is currently taking nominations for its Henry and Anne Paolucci Book Award. This award honors the best book of conservative scholarship published in 2013. You can read more about the award at

The deadline is today: Friday, May 16. The more suggestions, the merrier!

Email suggestions Jed Donahue at, and be sure to include the names of the books.

Mad Men Gone Schizoid

Season Seven, Episode Five (“The Runaways”): A very disjointed episode of Mad Men. Don Draper is marginal to most of its action; two watchable characters (Roger Sterling and Joan Harris) are absent from it entirely; and we endure two eruptions of gratuitous weirdness, one in the form of kinky sex, the other in the form of sexualized mutilation. Altogether, we find the story de-centered and distinctly schizoid. Continue Reading »

True Detective and the Problem of Personal Significance

It has been several months since I saw HBO’s first season of True Detective, but something about the series has stuck with me. Detectives Rust Cohle and Marty Hart investigate a series of bizarre ritualistic killings, but to be honest, I didn’t care much about that. What stuck with me was Rust’s pain and, even more, Marty’s domestic failures. Each man tries to explain and explain away his actions, but neither man is able to live according to his professed philosophy. Both men talk about and talk around the burden of living as beings that matter in a world of other beings that matter. Continue Reading »

Bob Dylan Must Get Stoned

Journalists have always been puzzled by Bob Dylan, but the confusion is of their own making. The pattern of treating him as a trickster whose words cannot be taken at face value was established in the sixties, when the rock intelligentsia wanted Dylan to be a political as well as musical revolutionary. He was neither, of course. His radicalness came from a deeply conservative understanding of musical history: He was reading Civil War era newspapers while everyone else was reading Norman O. Brown and listening to Gospel and Blues when music was becoming “pop” in the fifties. Continue Reading »