“A book is a word spoken into creation. Its message goes out into the world. It cannot be taken back,” Michael O’Brien warned as well as assured in his magisterial novel, Sophia House. Just as each word is a reflection of The Word (Logos), so each book is a reflection of The Book. While Christians have come to have a sort of monopoly on The Word and its greatest meaning and exemplar, others—such as the Stoics—embraced the Logos as well. And, while Christians have also come to have a sort of monopoly on The Book, others—such as the Stoics—embraced a variety of works. Here are ten books written by non-Stoics that greatly influenced Stoicism.
At the beginning of Stoic philosophy stands the first great work of philosophy itself, Heraclitus’ Fragments. In them, Heraclitus recognized and embraced (or perhaps even truly created) the notion of the Logos, the thing common to all. “For this reason it is necessary to follow what is common,” he lamented. “But although the logos is common, most people live as if they had their own private understanding.” Further, he continued, “Those who speak with understanding must rely firmly on what is common to all as a city must rely on law, and much more firmly. For all human laws are nourished by one law, the divine law; for it has as much power as it wishes and is sufficient for all and is still left over.” These ideas form the basis of Stoicism.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2021/05/10-ancient-books-influenced-stoicism-bradley-birzer.html
I’m thrilled to have my article, “The Dark Virtues of Robert E. Howard,” in the latest issue of MODERN AGE (Spring 2021). A huge thanks to Daniel McCarthy for inviting me to write this, and to Anthony Sacramone for editing it so perfectly. It’s a really excellent issue, despite my contribution!
If you’re interested, here are the sources I used (plus a few excellent articles by John J. Miller):
“Mother, Son to Be Buried.” Abilene (TX) Morning Reporter News, June 14 1936, 7.
“Death Ends Young Texas Writer’s Vigil,” Brownsville (TX) Herald, June 11, 1936, 8.
Busiek, Kurt. Conan the Barbarian. New York: Marvel, 2020.
Cassell, Dewey. “Conan the Syndicated Barbarian.” Backissue 121, no. 1 (September 2020): 40-46.
de Camp, Catherine Crook, and L. Sprague de Camp. Science Fiction Handbook, Revised. Philadelphia, PA: Owlswick, 1975.
de Camp, Catherine Crook, L. Sprague de Camp, and Jane Whittington Griffin. Dark Valley Destiny: The Life of Robert E. Howard, the Creator of Conan. New York: Bluejay Books, 1983.
Derie, Bobby. “Fragments from the Lost Letters of H.P. Lovecraft to Robert E. Howard.” Lovecraft Annual (2016): 199-204.
Dowd, Christopher. “The Irish-American Identities of Robert E. Howard and Conan the Barbarian.” New Hibernia Review 20, no. 2 (Summer 2016): 15-34.
Ellis, Novalyne Price. Day of the Stranger: Further Memories of Robert E. Howard. Edited by Rusty Burke. West Warick, RI: Necronomicon Press, 1989.
———. One Who Walked Alone, Robert E. Howard: The Final Years. Hampton Falls, NH: Donald M. Grant, 1996.
Finn, Mark. Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard. Robert E. Howard Foundation Press, 2013.
Gruber, Frank. The Pulp Jungle. Los Angeles, CA: Sherbourne Press, 1967.
Howard, Robert E. The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard. New York: Ballentine, 2008.
———. Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Cimmerian Barbarian. Corvalis, OR: Pulp-Lit Productions, 2017.
Howard, Robert E., and H.P. Lovecraft. A Means to Freedom: The Letters of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, 1930-1932. Edited by S.T. Joshi, David E. Schultz and Rusty Burke. New York: Hippocampus Press, 2017.
———. A Means to Freedom: The Letters of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, 1933-1936. Edited by S.T. Joshi, David E. Schultz and Rusty Burke. New York: Hippocampus Press, 2017.
Joshi, S.T. Sixty Years of Arkham House. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1999.
King, Stephen. Danse Macabre. New York: Gallery Books, 2010.
Lord, Glenn. The Last Celt: A Bio-Bibliography of Robert Ervin Howard. West Kingston, RI: Donald M. Grant, 1976.
Lovecraft, H.P. “Robert Ervin Howard: A Memoriam.” In Skull-Face and Others, edited by August Derleth, xiii-xvi. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1946. Reprint, Jersey, ENG: Neville Spearman, 1974.
———. “Letters to Farnsworth Wright.” Lovecraft Annual, no. 8 (2014): 5-59.
Lovecraft, H.P., and August Derleth. Essential Solitude: The Letters of H.P. Lovecraft and August Derleth: 1932-1937. Edited by S.T. Joshi and David E. Schultz. New York: Hippocampus Press, 2013.
———. Essential Solitude: The Letters of H.P. Lovecraft and August Derleth: 1926-1931. Edited by S.T. Joshi and David E. Schultz. New York: Hippocampus Press, 2013.
Lovecraft, H.P. and Divers Hands. Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1990.
Moskowitz, Sam. Seekers of Tomorrow: Masters of Modern Science Fiction. New York: Ballantine, 1967.
Price, E. Hoffman. “A Memory of R.E. Howard.” In Skull-Face and Others, edited by August Derleth, xvii-xxvi. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1946. Reprint, Jersey, ENG: Neville Spearman, 1974.
Thompson, Steven. “Conan Goes to Adventure Town.” Backissue 121, no. 1 (September 2020): 3-14.
Vick, Todd B. Renegades and Rogues: The Life and Legacy of Robert E. Howard. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2021.
Those of us who seek to preserve the Good, the True, and the Beautiful are aware, as the old saying goes, that “there be dragons” in the world who seek to destroy the invaluable inheritance that is Western Civilization.
Perhaps this has never been truer than it is today in our hyper-polarized world, where conservatives are now often branded “haters” and even “traitors” and “insurrectionists” by those who want to throw overboard the Permanent Things and build a progressive utopia.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2021/04/there-be-dragons-support-the-imaginative-conservative.html
It’s been a long wait, but we can now rejoice: Evership (Shane Atkinson & Beau West) is set to release a new album, The Uncrowned King, Act I. If you haven’t heard their previous work, every self-respecting fan of melodic, intellectually stimulating prog rock owes it to him or herself to give them a listen.
From their latest newsletter is this teaser:
Album 3 is the first half of a Rock Opera adaptation of the 1910 book by Harold Bell Wright called The Uncrowned King. This story is an allegory in the style of The Pilgrim’s Progress but with a story arch of Twain’s Prince and the Pauper meets Dicken’s Christmas Carol.
A pilgrim on a search for Truth arrives at the Temple of Truth with questions about the journey. In answer, the Keeper of the Temple retires him to The Quiet Room, overlooking The Beautiful Sea, where he is visited by the The Four Voices of Life. Each Voice tells him a piece of a story entitled “The Uncrowned King”, to give answer to his questions.
Rich with imagery, Shane has adapted the story faithfully to a progressive rock format we believe our fans will enjoy. Broken into two releases, the story is an allegory on the nature of truth. It is a statement that real truth cannot be derived solely by the senses, but it is more transcendent and one must be courageous in its pursuit and consequence.
Sounds like a fascinating premise for a concept, and I can’t wait to hear it. You can preorder The Uncrowned King, Act I here.
Meanwhile, while you’re waiting, enjoy listening to “Ultima Thule” from their debut album:
I’m rather proudly a huge fan of Arjen Lucassen (and have been for years and years and years), and Pete Pardo does an excellent job of interviewing him here. Lucassen is so earnest and so enthusiastic. A great combination for a musician. This interview is well worth watching.
“Now from his breast into the eyes the ache
of longing mounted, and he wept at last,
his dear wife, clear and faithful, in his arms,
longed for as the sunwarmed earth is longed for by a swimmer
spent in rough water where his ship went down
under Poseidon’s blows, gale winds and tons of sea.
Few men can keep alive through a big serf
to crawl, clotted with brine, on kindly beaches
in joy, in joy, knowing the abyss behind:
and so she too rejoiced, her gaze upon her husband
,her white arms round him pressed as though forever.”
― Homer, The Odyssey
Rhiannon Giddens & Francesco Turrisi’s There Is No Other was one of my favorite albums of 2019. Reviewing it, I described it as
A sweep of traditions and times woven together . . . one of those albums that Duke Ellington might termed ‘beyond category,’ resonating with the core of our shared humanity.
Giddens and Turrisi’s breathtaking new effort They’re Calling Me Home does it again. Recorded in Ireland under lockdown conditions with limited guests, the duo spin shimmering sonic webs with viola, banjo, guitar, accordion and hand percussion, enlivening a brilliantly eclectic gamut of spirituals, folk songs, hymns, Baroque arias and striking originals.
And as always, Giddens’ incomparable voice compels your attention, tracing the commonalities of these variegated songs across the centuries — caressing Monteverdi’s “Si dolce e’l Tormento” and the Anglo-Appalachian “When I Was in My Prime,” testifying to a hope beyond reason on “I Shall Not Be Moved,” staring down mortality itself on a vehement, haunted version of “O Death:”
Separated from their extended families in North Carolina and Italy by the pandemic, Giddens and Turrisi have made, essentially, an album of laments; They’re Calling Me Home faces up to the spectres of separation (temporary and permanent) that continue to stalk our world. But strengthened by the confrontation, they — and we — come out the other side refreshed, able to rejoice in the life and love still there for us to find and cherish.
Buy They’re Calling Me Home at Nonesuch Records; listen to it below:
— Rick Krueger
Dedicated to the British people in the midst of war, Christopher Dawson’s 1942 The Judgment of the Nations is everything a history book should be but rarely is. With lively prose and ceaselessly innovative ideas, Dawson considers the role of Providence in history and produces a twentieth-century version of St. Augustine’s City of God. Modern evils and totalitarianisms, he notes, are the results of the shallowness of liberalism and the wickedness of progressivism, each conspiring to make men nothing but cogs in a grinding machine.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2021/04/10-books-every-imaginative-conservative-should-read-bradley-birzer.html
Frost*’s upcoming album, Day and Age, showed up in the DropBox this past weekend, and considering their last one, Falling Satellites, was one of my top 5 of 2016, I immediately plugged it into the USB port of my home stereo. After eight consecutive listens and picking my jaw up off the floor, I have to state up front that Day and Age is Jem Godfrey, John Mitchell, and Nathan King’s finest achievement. Ever.
The album opens with the title track, and it is a galloping monster straight out of the gate. A young boy tells the listener to “enjoy yourselves, you scum!”, a relentless beat is established, and one of the most addictive keyboard/guitar riffs ever recorded takes charge. I think Frost* must have been listening to a lot of Synchronicity-era Police before writing this song, because it reminds me of that massive, tense, steamroller of a song, “Synchronicity II”. It is a masterpiece of controlled chaos that builds inexorably for nearly 12 minutes. There’s even a little ska-like section at the 5:33 mark that makes the Police invocation explicit. However, in a battle of the bands, Frost* would beat the pants off Messrs. Sumner, Copeland, and Summers. This is an incredible track, and after I heard it for the first time, I wondered if the rest of the album could possibly hit the high bar it set.
I need not have worried, as every song on Day and Age is equally strong. There is not a single clunker on the album. I don’t what lit a fire under John Mitchell, but his vocals have never sounded more impassioned (and he’s sung quite a few songs with a lot of passion!). The core of the group is Jem Godfrey (keyboards, vocals), John Mitchell (guitars, bass, vocals), and Nathan King (bass, keyboards, vocals). They have enlisted the talents of three different drummers – Pat Mastelotto, Darby Todd, and Kaz Rodriguez – and each one provides perfect support depending on the needs of the song.
“Terrestrial” is the first single, and it is a great choice – melodic, energetic, and leaving the listener wanting more:
“Waiting for the Lie” is a keyboard-based ballad that provides a nice respite from the fast-paced previous tracks. It features a beautiful melody that is allowed to shine through a no-frills production. “The Boy Who Stood Still” is a spoken-word allegory about a boy who, you guessed it, stood still. So still, that he disappeared. The narrator tells the tale over an infectious bed of ’80s – era synths and skittering drums. It sounds weird, but it is oddly attractive.
“Island Life” begins with some waves on the beach as washes of synths and some arpeggiated guitar (there’s that classic Police vibe again!) as Mitchell sings of escaping a dreary life and “living in this island life”. “Skywards” is my second-favorite song (after the title track), with some especially beautiful chord progressions in the melody. You think you know where it’s going, and it takes an unexpected turn and ends up even better than you anticipated.
Wait, did I say “Skywards” was my second-favorite song? I actually meant “Killing the Orchestra”! An electric piano and delicate vocals introduce this one, and it gradually builds into a mini-symphony that includes Mitchell’s best guitar solo of the album. It is nine and half minutes of musical bliss that segues immediately into the closing track, “Repeat to Fade”, that reprises some of the themes from the title track. This is a terrifically dense and claustrophobic track that features Mitchell hollering, “Enjoy yourselves, you scum!” Sounds oppressive, I know, except that the melody is very uplifting and makes the dark atmosphere bearable.
Nathan King recalls the writing and recording of “Repeat to Fade”: “We were 30 feet by the sea, next to a nuclear power station and a lighthouse, in midwinter! …in my head you can absolutely hear the bleak isolated oppression having an effect on us.”
The recording conditions may not have been ideal, but Jem, Nathan, and John have managed to produce a pop/prog masterpiece of an album from them. I’ve listened to it a dozen times now, and I find new delights every time.
Day and Age will be released on May 14, 2021 on InsideOut Music. You can preorder it here: https://frost-band.lnk.to/DayAndAge
Thanks to Big Big Train’s most recent newsletter, we now have news of a new online record store in the U.S., serving North America. The Bandwagon USA. Thrilled to have this news, and, for us Americans, let’s please support The Bandwagon USA as much as we can.