July 30th, 2021 sees the release of ‘Common Ground’, the self-produced new album from Big Big Train on their own label, English Electric Recordings. The new album, recorded during the worldwide pandemic, sees the band continue their tradition of dramatic narratives but also tackles issues much closer to home, such as the Covid lockdowns, the separation of loved ones, the passage of time, deaths of people close to the band and the hope that springs from a new love.
Watch the new video for the title track, created by Christian Rios, here:
“This is unashamedly a love song. It is about finding things that we share and have in common with other people. When my partner and I first came together as a couple, we lived not far from Avebury in Wiltshire, a very Big Big Train kind of place. The chalk hills and standing stones were part of the imagery of our ‘Folklore’ album, and once again I was writing what was literally happening in the location in which we found ourselves. I remember seeing my white chalk dust footprints upon the black of the car mats after we’d been walking around Avebury. I’m pleased that we both get to have this time with each other and ‘Common Ground’ is about finding out the things that we have in common with each other and deciding what we want to do in life together.” – David Longdon
— Read on mailchi.mp/dc6b181db799/big-big-train-announce-new-album-and-single-common-ground
When Winston Elliott and I first started talking about what a proper online conservative journal might look like, way back in the spring and summer of 2010, we decided on a few things. Most importantly, we wanted real diversity of opinion, not the parroting of some ideological drudgeries. As such, we wanted all schools of non-ideological thought to be able to express their views, but we were most taken with the more traditionalist forms of conservatism—especially as represented by Irving Babbitt, Paul Elmer More, T.S. Eliot, Willa Cather, Russell Kirk, and Robert Nisbet. We also desired for there to be real conversation, and, thus, we hoped for longish, thoughtful essays. As The Imaginative Conservative developed, the idea of an imaginative conservatism became, appropriately enough, a school of questions—all of them difficult to answer with any quick summation or hasty thinking. In an attempt, however, to provide something of a catechetical summa, here are the ten most important questions that linger to varying degrees behind every essay published over the last eleven years.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2021/05/ten-imaginative-conservative-questions-bradley-birzer.html
“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
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.
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
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.
To my mind, these voices have never been more needed and more relevant. A humanist but certainly no conservative, George Orwell once famously remarked, “we have now sunk to a depth at which the re-statement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”
In this fine Orwellian tradition, it is worth remembering three things, each of which reminds us what it means to conserve our most cherished traditions—that is, to be a traditional conservative—even in a time of chaos.
First and foremost, we must remember that every single person is an unrepeatable center of dignity and freedom, each a moral and ethical agent, endowed with free will, and born in a certain time and certain place, never to be repeated. Life matters, and it is a precious gift every single time it appears. That is, each person is a unique reflection of the Infinite, a bearer of the Imago Dei, and a Temple of the Holy Spirit. No matter how much corruption a person puts on during this lifetime, he or she remains precious, at least at the heart of things. For even the most corrupt human being has within him the spark of divine grace, no matter how close to being smothered that spark is. “In Him, we move and live and have our being,” the Stoics and St. Paul assured us
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2021/04/what-remains-conservatism-bradley-birzer.html
Easter is the highest holiday in the Christian world. Here’s some great rock to help you contemplate, celebrate, and love.