Dress Up

For quite a few years now, academic philosophers and socio­logists, as well as pop­ular social commentators who get paid to pronounce on such matters, have been telling us that people have been abandoning their formal personas in favor of the whims and behavior of their individual selves. The . . . . Continue Reading »

Invisible President

We Are the Change We Seek:The Speeches of Barack Obamaedited by e. j. dionne jr. and joy-ann reidbloomsbury, 376 pages, $25 The one thing we know about Barack Obama—at least, we think we know it—is that he is a great orator. From the moment he entered the nation’s consciousness in the . . . . Continue Reading »

The Three Necessary Societies

Rerum Novarum (1891) begins with this sentence: “That the spirit of new things [revolutionary change], which has long been disturbing the nations of the world, should have passed beyond the sphere of politics and made its influence felt in the cognate sphere of practical economics is not . . . . Continue Reading »

How to Look at a Tree

Across the road from my house, presiding over a patch of lawn between my parish church and the old schoolhouse, there is a chestnut tree. I cannot say that the tree is particularly important to me; days can go by without my looking at it or taking any thought of it. And yet, if I turn my attention . . . . Continue Reading »

The Age of Concentration

Many regard Russia as backward, lagging behind the West. This is not so. Our shared civilization is changing, and because of our raw experience of the twentieth century, my country is in some respects ahead of the West. I have described the coming epoch as a new medievalism (“The New Middle . . . . Continue Reading »

I Like It at Home

“All my brothers went West and took up land, but I hung on to New England and I hung on to the old farm, not because the paint mine was on it, but because the old house was on it—and the graves.” That’s what Silas Lapham tells a Boston journalist in the opening scene of William Dean . . . . Continue Reading »