“L. Brent Bozell Jr, conservative insurrectionist”
Ben Sixsmith, Spectator USA
The recent Sohrab Ahmari–David French debate has roused polemicists and partisans both within and outside the Right, all recognizing the need for definitions of liberalism and conservatism that address the problems facing the United States in the twenty-first century. Attendant circumstances aside, the debate over the place of Catholicism, and Christianity more broadly, in the public sphere is hardly a new one. Our ability to shepherd conservative forces in the right direction will depend in large part on our ability to assess how such debates have played out in the past. Writing for Spectator USA, Ben Sixsmith has sniffed out one such precedent in the figure of L. Brent Bozell, Jr.—a Catholic stalwart, close friend of William F. Buckley, Jr., and “perhaps the second-most influential ideologue in the nascent conservative movement.” Like Ahmari, Bozell lamented a growing conservative tolerance of dissipated and depredatory forces in the public sphere. The target of his ire is most clearly delineated by Frank Meyer’s theory of “fusionism,” which aspires, roughly, to “the union of cultural conservatism and political liberalism.” Agree with him or not, Bozell’s response still resonates today: “The story of how the Free society has come to take priority over the good society is the story of the decline of the West.” Taking neither side, Sixsmith does a fine job of explaining the contemporary relevance of this and other such conflicts in Bozell’s career.
“Albrecht Dürer: The painter with ‘a magical touch.’ ”
Kelly Grovier, BBC Culture
Hidden messages in masterpieces have long proved fascinating to the imagination, as recent discoveries of Caravaggian self-portraits and Miltonian acrostics amply demonstrate. A painting by Albrecht Dürer, Young Hare (1502), offers a particularly illuminating view into the world inhabited by the German master, according to scholars. The work, depicting a hare in exquisite detail, omits all other elements save the animal’s shadow, opting to leave the background blank. And yet the animal does not exist in hermetic silence: in the glint of his eye one can make out the reflection of Dürer’s studio window, five hundred years removed from the present. The artist’s “meticulous scrutiny of the natural world” is well attested by this and other painterly studies, but it is perhaps his attention to the otherworldly suggestiveness of the tiniest details—the enchanting gleam of an eye—that has won his oeuvre such longevity and acclaim.
“A Dandy Goes to War: Review of A German Officer in Occupied Paris by Ernst Jünger”
Michael J. Lewis, Commentary
In his review of Ernst Jünger’s newly translated diaries from World War II, Michael J. Lewis opens with a comparison between the controversial author of Storm of Steel and fellow German Victor Klemperer. During the war, Lewis explains, “Klemperer wrote furtively, in daily dread of transport to an extermination camp. . . . Ernst Jünger, by contrast, had what was once called a ‘good war.’ ” Indeed, a first glance at Jünger’s diaries from his time in occupied Paris might seem to indicate cold and privileged indifference to Nazi atrocities. The author enjoyed the freedom to pursue an extensive program of leisure reading and to commingle with such artists and intellectuals as Picasso and Braque; he glosses over wartime events of immense consequence in favor of “lyrical and precise accounts of . . . tombstones, their inscriptions, and the plant and insect life teeming around them.” But a closer look at Jünger’s diary, as Lewis demonstrates, reveals a nuanced and compelling inner life that was deeply concerned, albeit after his own fashion, with some of the most essential questions haunting Europe at the time. We can rest assured of the diaries’ merit. Interested readers can also look forward to Andrew Stuttaford’s review of Jünger’s work in a forthcoming issue of The New Criterion.
By the Editors:
“ ‘William Bailey: Looking Through Time’ Review: Realism Reimagined”
Andrew L. Shea, The Wall Street Journal
A review of the exhibition at the Yale University Art Gallery.
Music for a While: Who Cares?
by Jay Nordlinger
Jay Nordlinger, music critic of The New Criterion, talks music—but, more important, plays music.
From our pages:
Midnight in Rome
by Stephen Schmalhofer
On Henry James & company in the Eternal City.