Category Archives: Philosophy

Irving Babbitt and the Crisis of Nationalism, 1915 ~ The Imaginative Conservative

In the 1910s, one of America’s greatest humanists, Irving Babbitt (1865-1933), surprisingly decided to dive into the realm of political theory and, to a lesser degree, practical politics in his many writings. Up to this decade, Babbitt had written literary and cultural criticism, defenses of the liberal arts, and explorations of Chinese philosophy and religion, but little to no politics. This changed with the advent of World War I, and Babbitt decided to apply all that he had done prior to the decade to the political philosophies of Nietzsche, of internationalism, and, especially, of nationalism. In a series of articles in The Nation in 1915, Babbitt perceptively analyzed the world, its recent past, and its most likely future. Indeed, if anything, Babbitt’s words were deeply prophetic and should have been heeded by all.

All modern European history began, Babbitt declared, with the French Revolution. Though it had proclaimed a sort of radical internationalism, it had devolved very quickly into a brutal and violent nationalism, with “Viva la nation!” becoming its unholy war cry.

Infected by the ideologies and “isms” first propounded by the French, modern Europe had, too, devolved into particular chaoses of national units. “Europe is to-day less cosmopolitan in any genuine sense of the word than it was at almost any period in the Middle Ages. Moreover, the type of internationalism that has broken down so disastrously, as well as the type of nationalism that has overthrown it, are both of comparatively recent origin. ‘The sentiment of nationalities,’ says Renan, ‘is not a hundred years old.’ And, he adds that this sentiment was created in the world by the French Revolution,” Babbitt explained. The so-called brotherhood of the Jacobins, Babbitt reminded his readers, was not so much one of universal love, but rather an alliances of “Cains, men whose hands were stained with blood and who looked on one another with incurable distrust.” The French, Babbitt continued, moved from universalism to particularism to “bestiality.”
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2022/01/irving-babbitt-crisis-nationalism-1915-bradley-birzer.html

Echo and the Bunnymen’s Will Sergeant has a prog secret!

Echo and the Bunnymen guitarist Will Sergeant has released the first installment of his memoirs recalling his days leading up to the release of Echo and The Bunnymen’s first album. In this Reverb.com interview he shares some great nuggets, including his interest in some of the classic progressive rock of the early seventies.

Toundra’s El Odio

TOUNDRA – release 3rd and last single “El Odio. Part III” of the “El Odio” trilogy

Premiere of “El Odio” short film on Jan 10th

 Photo by Sergio AlbertToundra are enchanted to be releasing “El Odio, Parte III”, the third and last part of their 22-minute-long piece “El Odio” off of their new album “HEX”. For the video of “El Odio. Parte III”, the band once more collaborated with Asturian director Jorge Carbajales again.

Watch the video here:
https://youtu.be/_knouen7nMQAnd the band is just as excited to be announcing the launch of the full short film “El Odio” on January 10th (1PM CET) via Youtube. Stay tuned for more info.
 
“HEX” is available as Ltd. Edition CD, 180g Gatefold LP (incl. the album on CD) and as Digital Album. Click here to pre-order the album now:
https://toundra.lnk.to/Hex
 
Toudra “HEX” (45:25):
1. El Odio. Parte I (8:07)
2. El Odio. Parte II (6:44)
3. El Odio. Parte III (6:53)
4. Ruinas (5:01)
5. La Larga Marcha (5:50)
6. Watt (7:50)
7. FIN (4:57)
 
“HEX” will be released on January 14th, 2022 via InsideOutMusic.TOUNDRA online:
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Coming Soon. . . Spirit of Cecilia Radio

Featuring music from Karisma, Bad Elephant, and Gravity Dream Labels, as well as bands/acts such as Big Big Train, The Flower Kings, Galahad, Nosound, Giancarlo Erra, Cosmograf, The Bardic Depths, IZZ, North Atlantic Oscillation, SAND, Tim Bowness, The Tangent, Glass Hammer, Kevin McCormick, Lifesigns, Dave Kerzner, Fire Garden, Kalman Filter, and more to come.

Troika’s First Video, JULIA


Nick D’Virgilio, Neal Morse & Ross Jennings share first single and video for “Julia” from debut albumNick D’Virgilio (Big Big Train, ex-Spock’s Beard), Neal Morse (Transatlantic, NMB, ex-Spock’s Beard), and Ross Jennings (Haken, Novena) are pleased to announce their debut album titled ‘Troika’ will be released on Feb 25th, 2022.  The album is now available for pre-order here:
https://dvirgiliomorsejennings.lnk.to/Troika
 
Today, the band is also sharing the album’s first single “Julia”.  You can watch the video by Christian Rios here:
https://youtu.be/Y31eVTnMIxIRoss had this to say about the track:
“With my original demo clocking in at around the 8-minute mark and possibly leaning too close to ‘prog epic’ than the singer/songwriter vibe we were attempting to present on this record, Neal arranged my lengthy ballad into something more concise, in-keeping with the album’s essence and writing in a powerful new chorus in the process! 
 
“This one was all about the 3-part vocal harmony interplay and ‘pull-at-the-heartstring’ lyrics which deals with themes of regret and forgiveness in the context of a broken father-daughter relationship.”
– Ross JenningsTracklisting:
1.Everything I Am (5:43)
2. Julia (6:07)
3. You Set My Soul On Fire (3:22)
4. One Time Less (4:53)
5. Another Trip Around The Sun (4:39)
6. A Change Is Gonna Come (4:24)
7. If I Could (4:02)
8. King For A Day (5:47)
9. Second Hand Sons (4:43)
10. My Guardian (3:43)
11. What You Leave Behind (4:16)
 
‘Troika’ will be available as Ltd. CD Edition / Gatefold 2LP+CD / Digital Album. Each format includes a bonus alternative version of the track ‘Julia’ and is available for pre-order here: https://dvirgiliomorsejennings.lnk.to/TroikaRecorded during lockdown, the process began with Neal Morse writing some acoustic songs that he thought would be enhanced by strong vocal harmonies. He already knew how well his voice blended with former Spock’s Beard band-mate and Big Big Train drummer/ vocalist, Nick D’Virgilio who came on board and, considering a third man, the Americans sought out Haken’s Ross Jennings from the UK to complete the trio. All three found they had songs that would benefit from the three part harmonic blend, and so they pooled their resources, inputting creatively into each others compositions.
 
Neal comments: “What a great pleasure it’s been to work on this album with these amazing artists! It was kind of funny… We had been working on the songs remotely for several months before I finally heard all of us singing together at the same time. The first time I brought the faders up, I knew we had the magic!“
 
Nick adds: “I’ve known and worked with Neal for over 30 years and I’ve been a big fan of Ross and the music he makes for a long time. I felt confident right away that this would be a fun project to be a part of. I was so right.”
 
Ross comments: “Receiving ‘The Call’ from Neal to participate in this project was somewhat of a prayer answered… As a long time fan of their work, I’ve been singing along to Neal’s & Nick’s records for years, so it felt really natural for my voice to slot right in.”
 
The tracks took shape with the musicians recording all of the music and vocals separately, yet the eclectic performances burst with the energy and excitement of the collaboration. Acoustic anthems, charged rockers and sensitive ballads are all part of the mix, and the unique blend of Ross, Neal and Nick’s voices and styles have created an album in which you will encounter these musicians in a way you’ve never heard before.D’Virgilio, Morse & Jennings ONLINE:
https://www.facebook.com/ndvofficial/ 
https://www.nickdvirgilio.com/ 
https://www.instagram.com/ndvirgilio/ 
https://twitter.com/NDVmusic
 
https://www.facebook.com/nealmorse/ 
https://twitter.com/nealmorse 
https://www.instagram.com/neal_morse_official/
 
www.rossjennings.co.uk
https://www.instagram.com/rossjenningsofficial/ 
https://www.facebook.com/rossjenningsofficial
https://twitter.com/RossWJennings
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Reconciling Gene

If it isn’t already quite evident, most of my contributions on this website have been eulogies, attempted hymns of motorcycling and all the things uniquely American. My dad and great grandfather also used to motorcycle, so for that obsession I’d conveniently blame the inherited genes. But curiosity about Americana and in general Western civilization is probably acquired. Would like to believe for the most part these ideas were shaped by an honest sense of inquiry, sort of an amateur study into the causes of relative peace and prosperity.

If it isn’t already obvious, most parts of the world are in a constant state of strife or state of tension. It varies in terms of degree, but people are in general deadlocked in some form of bickering, often these inter-group squabbles are over disputes hundreds of years old, and probably even inflicted by unknown individuals. Generations continually born into this baggage and their minds shaped by these artifacts of the past. Without reconciling these disputes there is no peace or path to prosperity. Even if someone manages a truce, it is often fleeting, the mischief inevitably reemerges.

Thanks to some fortunate accidents of history, somehow the reconciling cultural strand of Englishmen survived, and often thrived. From common law jurisprudence and related institutions, to its more evolved form of American Federalism, for hundreds of years there is a constant recurring theme of attempting to reconcile divergent views. This framework itself is designed to resolve disputes without taking sides or enforcing collective goals. An unconditional 1st Amendment is a perfect illustration of this tendency. Even when most countries emulated Constitutionalism and all the surrounding institutions, they adopted a caricatured variant devoid of that impartial reconciling strand.

Not just in dispute resolution, peace through reconciliation is evident in all the functioning layers of the political system. Whether it’s reconciling majority views with minority or legislature with judiciary or democracy with rule of law or states rights with Federal — seems like English tradition constantly steered towards that simple goal of peaceful coexistence. But that mere goal of peaceful coexistence has lead to lofty outcomes of stability and prosperity, because that peace also allowed channeling individual energies to higher goals. In short, while simple goals lead to elevated outcomes, numerous political systems striving for explicitly high ideals consistently fell off the cliff. Well, yet another Thanksgiving, and felt like we have a lot to be thankful for, including that rarely acknowledged reconciling institutional gene.

Rest in Peace, David Longdon

It’s finally hitting me that we live in a world without David Longdon. What a tragedy, what a loss. I first received the news of his death during lunch. Uncharacteristically for me, I was eating lunch while checking things on my iPad. Two things happened at once–I saw the notice from Louder.com and my phone rang. It was my awesome friend, Tom Woods, making sure that I knew the news. Seriously, the phone rang within seconds of me reading the Louder.com post.

A few years ago, Tom and I had the great fortune of interviewing David for Tom’s rather famous podcast. Tom and I have bonded over many things, but few as precious as the hour we spent with David. David was, to be sure, a master craftsman, an original, and a true-to-life gentleman. While Tom and I were barely concealing our fanboy excitement, David offered us nothing but gratitude and clarity.

When I was at Progarchy.Com, I had the pleasure of “talking” with David over email, and I’ll never forget when I first heard the magisterial song, “A Boy in Darkness”–about child abuse. I emailed David, asking him (and hoping against hope that my suspicions were wrong) if the song was autobiographical. No, he assured me, it was not! Thank, God.

To be sure, Longdon and Spawton were the greatest rock musical writing duo since McCartney and Lennon. Their loss will be felt for a generation or more.

I first heard David Longdon’s excellence in 2009, receiving a mix from the mighty Carl Olson with a Big Big Train song on it. I was, from the first moment, hooked. I still consider The Underfall Yard one of the best rock albums of all time. It ranks up there with Selling England by the Pound, Close to the Edge, and Spirit of Eden. I would also–and, yes, I’m throwing the gauntlet down–argue that Longdon had the single best voice in all of rock.

So, David, thank you for everything. A life beautifully lived. There’s so much more to be said, but my brain and soul are still processing a world without you.

In Memory of David Longdon

Devastating news at Big Big Train’s website:

David Longdon
17th June 1965 – 20th November 2021

Big Big Train are extremely saddened to announce the death of David Longdon this afternoon in hospital in Nottingham, UK at the age of 56 following an accident in the early hours of Friday morning. He is survived by his two daughters Amelia and Eloise, his mother Vera and his partner Sarah Ewing.

Sarah Ewing comments: “David and I were best friends, partners and soul mates and I am utterly devastated by his loss. He was a beautiful person and I feel so lucky to have known and loved him.”

Greg Spawton comments: “We are absolutely stunned to lose David. It is unspeakably cruel that a quirk of fate in the early hours of yesterday morning has deprived him and his loved ones of a happy future together and all of the opportunities, both personal and musical, that awaited him next year and beyond.”

David joined Big Big Train in 2009, immediately making a significant impact with that year’s The Underfall Yard album. He proceeded to record a further eight studio albums with the band, including the forthcoming Welcome To The Planet, as well as fronting the band for a series of highly acclaimed concerts from 2015 onwards. In addition last year he released an album with the late Judy Dyble under the name Dyble Longdon. On the day before his accident he had been in the studio working on a new solo album.

“David made a huge impact on my life both musically and personally,” Spawton continues. “I loved him like a brother and already feel his loss very deeply. He was a true creative visionary with extraordinary depth of talent. But above all he was a first rate and very kind man. His family, friends, BBT bandmates and crew will miss him terribly.”

The band’s Welcome To The Planet album remains scheduled for release on 28th January 2022. A further statement regarding the band’s 2022 concerts and other activities will follow in due course.

The band and their management request privacy for David’s family and friends at this extremely difficult time.

— Rick Krueger