Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – We’re not constrained by anything anymore. We’re not constrained by the goodness of a good, moral imagination that sees the human condition as an exercise in bringing out the good in people instead of allowing the evil to show itself and then praising it, which is what we do with our various moralities, whether it’s sexual or other perversions that we seem to have to endorse these days because someone might get offended if we say something to the contraire. Russell Kirk addressed this in what he called the three kinds of imaginations. Check out today’s transcript for an excerpt from this and much more…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: The first hour of the program, I covered the Aurora, Colorado shooting by saying that in my humble opinion, there is no policy prescription that fixes this. Sometimes you just have to accept the evil side of human nature and do the best that you can to prepare for it. That’s not going to stop the demagogues on the left and the right from seizing on this and having the usual Cowboys v. Indians, Red Sox v. Yankees, conservatives v. liberals, Democrat v. Republican, right v. left feud over gun control or conceal carry or whatever the case may be. There is no policy that is going to address the evil that sits in the heart of James Holmes. Russell Kirk addressed it, though, as a true conservative may try to address this in the abstract by proposing and writing an essay called “The Moral Imagination” back in the ‘80s. I was reading from Kirk’s essay earlier. If you missed the first hour of the program, let me just tell you, you missed it. I’m going to recap this on the website.
I’m going to go to the second little part of what I read from Kirk earlier that I think has an awful lot to do about this. I asked two questions of the audience the first hour. I asked, number one, could you see your 14-, 12-, 11-year-old son, whatever the case may be, or daughter for that matter, playing one of today’s very realistic video games and being thrust into a situation where they are given a mission where they are to go into a dimly-lit room, like a movie theater, and indiscriminately start picking people off with hand grenades, smoke bombs and all matter of firearms? Since no one sent me any hate mail that said, [mocking] “That doesn’t exist. Let’s get to the real subject matter,” I’m going to assume that the answer was an unequivocal, unanimous, yes. Why is that?
Number two, what if you find out, you, fair listener, that Mr. Holmes is indeed not insane, that he is totally in control of his faculties, knew exactly what he was doing, playing the whole thing out? In his version of things as they are, that was what he was supposed to do. That has every bit as good a chance of a plausible explanation for this as any of the concocted ones I’ve heard that he was a plant by the CIA to get the gun grabbing crowd all ginned up for the election in November.
I think we ought to deal with this as we deal with many things. We encourage [r]epublicans, those that choose self-government, very local, small, self-government over the nationalistic, sick, twisted variety that we have today, our founders were [r]epublicans, most of them, encourage you to analyze this and look at it from the point of view of the individual. What is it that the individual does or does not do while exercising what Charles Murray said on this show, obedience to the unenforceable? I call it self-censorship, choosing to not do something, choosing to not say something, choosing to not put some macabre instance in your video game, for example, or in your movie. These are all individual choices.
We’re not constrained by anything anymore. We’re not constrained by the goodness of a good, moral imagination that sees the human condition as an exercise in bringing out the good in people instead of allowing the evil to show itself and then praising it, which is what we do with our various moralities, whether it’s sexual or other perversions that we seem to have to endorse these days because someone might get offended if we say something to the contraire. Russell Kirk addressed this in what he called the three kinds of imaginations. I’m just going to read a brief passage from his essay.
When that occurs, too often a third form of imagination obtains ascendancy. In his lectures entitled After Strange Gods, T.S. Eliot touches upon the diabolic imagination: that kind of imagination which delights in the perverse and subhuman. The name of Sade comes to mind at once; but Eliot finds “the fruitful operations of the Evil Spirit” in the writings of Thomas Hardy and D. H. Lawrence, as well. Anyone interested in the moral imagination and in the anti-moral imagination should read carefully After Strange Gods. “The number of people in possession of any criteria for discriminating between good and evil is very small,” Eliot concludes; “the number of the half-alive hungry for any form of spiritual experience, or for what offers itself as spiritual experience, high or low, good or bad, is considerable. My own generation has not served them very well. Never has the printing press been so busy, and never have such varieties of buncombe and false doctrine come from it. Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!”
This “diabolic imagination” dominates most popular fiction today. [Mike: Bear in mind, Kirk is writing this in the ‘80s. If he could see what dominates the imagination today, I think he would be able to explain the James Holmeses, Jared Loughners and Cho Seung-Huis of the world eloquently. This “diabolic imagination” dominates most popular fiction today; and on television and in the theaters, too, the diabolic imagination struts and postures. The other night I lodged at a fashionable new hotel; my single room cost about eighty dollars. One could tune the room’s television set to certain movies, for an extra five dollars. After ten o’clock, all the films offered were nastily pornographic. But even the “early” films, before ten, without exception were products of the diabolic imagination, in that they pandered to the lust for violence, destruction, cruelty, and sensational disorder. Apparently it never occurred to the managers of this fashionable hotel that any of their affluent patrons, of whatever age and whichever sex, might desire decent films. Since Eliot spoke at the University of Virginia in 1933, we have come a great way farther down the road to Avernus. And as literature sinks into the perverse, so modern civilization falls to its ruin: “The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned.”
So having remarked the existence of the moral imagination, the idyllic imagination, and the diabolic imagination, I venture to remind you of the true purpose of humane letters. As C. E. M. Joad points out in his book Decadence: A Philosophical Inquiry, what we call “decadence” amounts to the loss of an end, an object. When literature has lost sight of its real object or purpose, literature is decadent. What then is the end, object, or purpose of humane letters? Why, the expression of the moral imagination; or, to put this truth in a more familiar phrase, the end of great books is ethical—to teach us what it means to be genuinely human.
Mike: There’s much more to this, about 10,000 more words. It’s brilliant stuff. What Kirk is saying here, what he’s writing about, is that the things that we call modern culture, entertainment and what have you here today, even back in the late ‘80s as he was chronicling this, tended to the bad. They tended to the diabolic. They tended to the macabre. They don’t tend to the good. Literature, as it was envisioned or created, to fulfill a need by the ancient Greeks and then passed down to the Romans and throughout Europe and the Western civilization, was to kind of give us a runway, a lit runway of sorts to show there’s a path towards goodness.
Is the pursuit of your daily life and living, is that pursuit a pursuit of the good or is it a pursuit of the evil? Undeniably, there will always be men that pursue to the evil, because in their mind, the evil is a means to an end. Perhaps they desire something. Perhaps Mr. Holmes desired fame, lasting, immortal infamy in his case, but fame nonetheless. Perhaps that’s what he thought was his path to achieving it. Perhaps, knowing how today’s media and culture works, he ultimately may have the last laugh. How sad is that? In our macabre and perverted obsession with the obscene and with the perverted, that we choose not to call obscene or perverted any longer, maybe we make room for the James Holmeses. How many of you remember Cho Seung-Hui? AG, do you know who Cho Seung-Hui is? Do you remember him?
AG: Not off the top of my head, no.
Mike: I’ll give you a hint: Virginia Tech. He was the Virginia Tech shooter, Cho Seung-Hui. He was a young madmen. Where do these madmen come from? For what purpose do they perpetrate these crimes? As we talked about earlier, maybe in their minds it’s not criminal at all. It is what they have learned through this thing we call our culture today. It is their avenue, as I said, to lasting fame. The question remains, what if we find out that not only was Mr. Holmes not insane, but he is perfectly fit to stand trial as a sane individual and stand to account for those 13 dead in the Aurora shooting?
In other words, ladies and gentlemen, your choice to not censor yourself has consequences. We like to absolve ourselves. [mocking] “It’s a free market. I don’t have to buy it if I don’t want to.” You missed the point. There’s a giant forest there and you’re staring at a little tree. This is what Charles Murray meant, the great author, when he was on this show. He was repeating a phrase that a gentleman had told him, which was “obedience to the unenforceable.” You can’t enforce self-censorship. You cannot enforce someone that they ought to have a set of limitations in their thought pattern that tells them when they have a choice between A and B that they should choose A because they believe it leads to the path of goodness or that good things may become of it.
Alas, I am in the minority here. I’m sure that this discussion will ultimately, after the smoke clears and after the victims are ceremoniously honored, we will have yet another shooting match between Brady gun control activists like Charles Schumer. Here was Senator Charles Schumer taking advantage of it and jumping on the bandwagon to say if we had just listened to him and banned certain weapons, none of this would have happened.
[start audio clip]
Senator Charles Schumer: If the assault weapons ban were in place, he wouldn’t have been allowed to have the AR-15, which was on the banned list. He couldn’t have had a 100-roudn clip. The gun lobby is powerful, poised, and they have lots of people who do their work for them. We need an aroused, silent majority of the public. We can have both the right to bear arms and legitimate limitations that make sense, such as an assault weapons ban.
[end audio clip]
Mike: There again, in the heart and the mind of the arrogant, conceited liberal and the arrogant, conceited establishment Republican-type, they believe that all of human nature is regulatable. We can regulate everyone. If we just pass the right laws, everyone will do what we say because we are smarter than the average bear. It’s like the Six Million Dollar Man, [mocking] “We can make you better than you were before. We can make you better, stronger, smarter, faster because we’re liberals, because we’re establishment Republicans, decepticons. We just need the right policy. Need someone in there turning the nobs the right way.” Thus everything then becomes a national issue. This is the latest one.
End Mike Church Show Transcript