We are faced with a large minority from an Islamic background, a significant amount of whom cherish beliefs and conduct themselves in ways that threaten the foundations of European civilisation. Not simply because they oppose our values, but that the simplest, most radical solution that comes to mind, is even more of a threat to us and our values. We appear stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. If Europe fights, it loses as a culture, it will die; if we try to swim away, we drown. But perhaps there is a third option.
Clark returns to the grandeur of early 16th century Rome. The Reformation and subsequent Wars of Religion, whose devastating effect on Western Europe Clark describes in passing naturally had their impact on Rome. Part 7 is dedicated to the extraordinary resilience and ability shown by Catholicism to bounce back from a seemingly desperate position. And the situation was bad. As Clark describes it, Rome had been humiliated: “The city had been sacked and burnt, the people of Northern Europe were heretics, the Turks were threatening Vienna.”
“The players of identity politics on the far right continue ever-so-pathologically to beat the anti-Semitic drum, pointing to the over-representation of Jews in positions of authority, competence and influence (including revolutionary movements). I’m called upon–sometimes publicly, sometimes on social media platforms–to comment on such matters, and criticized when I hesitate to do so (although God only knows why I would hesitate :))”
One might assert that his view of Germany is a 20th-century sentiment speaking through a man who has lived through both World Wars, and is maybe somewhat inappropriate for a discussion of the late 15th century. When Clark talks about “these destructive national characteristics,” he uses 19th-century concepts that barely fit the political or cultural constellation around 1500.
And so it came to be, Thor dressed as a bride and pretended to be Freya, who was about to be married off to ThrymskvidaI. At the banquet, Thor, whose near-limitless appetite was only matched by his lack of self-restraint, ate whole oxen and drank by the barrel. When the king inquired about the bride’s appetite, Loki ensured him it was only because the bride was so in love that she had lost her appetite for the previous days. Only now, in the presence of her one true love, was she able to eat again.
Clark describes Medieval Rome, maybe too harshly, as a time when the Romans lived in their city, essentially as people without a past. Pressed down by the weight of the giants of Antiquity, which they no longer understood, they treated the city as if it was a natural phenomenon. This is, according to Clark, what changed with the Renaissance, when Antiquity no longer oppressed, but was taken as a challenge. Concentrating on art, as always, Clark describes three “heroes” of the Renaissance: Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci.
We could, of course, explain ourselves and bore you half to death with bombastic adjectives. But we’d rather just show you. We believe that notions of left vs right, liberal vs conservative are outdated and disorienting. Instead, we’re positioned in the second quadrant (Q2) of Eric Weinstein’s Four Quadrant Model. In short: we detest the political correctness and identity politics of Q1, but we refuse to accept that alarmist boomer polemics and the alt-right in Q3 are the only alternatives.
After Peterson appeared on Joe Rogan last year, I decided to watch his lecture series Personality and its Transformations, Maps of Meaning and The Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories. Prety profound stuff, with one central theme: how to be in the world as an individual.
In the Pazzi Chapel, Clark says, the beginnings of the Renaissance are visible. Though often considered small, Clark claims that this is actually because of a new perspective, so to speak, in culture in which “everything is adjusted to the scale of reasonable human necessity.” This whole change in outlook he catches in one phrase, coined by Protagoras:”Man, the measure of all things.”
“It does not break wills, but it softens them, bends them and directs them; it rarely forces action, but it constantly opposes your acting; it does not destroy, it prevents birth; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, it represses, it enervates, it extinguishes, it stupifies, and finally it reduces each nation to being nothing more than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”
This leads into a discussion of the ideal of Courtly Love. This, Clark says, is an invention of the Middle Ages – unknown to Antiquity. He offers three possible theories for its invention: Firstly, that Courtly Love as an idea was derived from Persian literature that Crusaders encountered in the Middle East. Secondly, Clark puts forward that it might have been the social position of noble women that inspired a sort of admiration that had to remain distant. Thirdly, he mentions the link between Courtly Love and the veneration of the Virgin Mary.