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Showing posts from 2017

Queen of Space

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Yesterday, Milo ascended into the heavens. (You knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?) Okay, not in body, but in image and words. And, okay, he fell back to earth again, a modern-day Icarus on wings of helium. But he – or his authorial effigy – was up there above the clouds for over an hour, live-streaming his (book’s) adventure on Facebook.

Thousands of his fans joined in to watch; over 165,000 have now seen the video. In the livestream chat, some of them (trollishly?) insisted that the footage proved the earth was flat; others insisted that what we were watching was not actual footage captured in space, but only the book projected onto a green screen. Some of us (myself included) even believed for a moment that what we were seeing was live.

And why not? Do you realize how unspeakably cool it is that Milo – and a few other guys to help him – could do this? Launch a copy of his book up above the clouds, film the whole thing, and get it back? Ever so casually, just by following th…

Hate Speech Hocus Pocus

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What was it we used to say when we were kids? “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Not!, according to Lisa Feldman Barrett, professor of psychology at Northeastern University. (She has a nice web page, maybe I should get someone to help me redesign mine....) Words can hurt. Not directly like physical blows, but through their effects on our nervous system. In Barrett’s words, published last Sunday in the newspaper of national record (did that hurt?), words can “make you sick, alter your brain – even kill neurons – and shorten your life.”

We know this because science.
Your body’s immune system includes little proteins called proinflammatory cytokines [NB fancy words!] that cause inflammation when you’re physically injured [for example, with sticks and stones]. Under certain conditions, however, these cytokines [that fancy word again] themselves can cause physical illness [because they’re, like, proteins, that is, physical. Try to keep up, 007]. What are …

Talking Symbolism with Jonathan Pageau

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Jonathan Pageau is an Orthodox icon carver and friend of Jordan Peterson. Like me, Jonathan is a medievalist interested in reviving the complexity of Christian symbolism. Last week, he invited me to a conversation about my friendship with Milo, what I have learned from Jordan, and what I say in my forthcoming book about Mary. Enjoy! Watch here.

Fencing Bear’s Day Out With Milo and the Boys

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I got my wish! Remember how envious I was of Laurie Penny, getting to ride around with Milo in his “swank black trollmobile” last summer? Well. Let me tell you about the day I had yesterday with Milo and his boys!

It was just as Laurie Penny says. There was the “swank black trollmobile.” There was the posse of twenty-something young men. There were the incessant jokes about how much expensive champagne the band of pranksters drank the night before. There were the endlessly replayed videos of the bottle-smashing (Milo is half-Greek, after all). There were the tales about going to strip joints and how beautiful the strippers were. There was...absolutely nothing that made me nervous about any of this.

I don’t know Penny, but I have been writing about Milo for almost a year now, and I have never seen anything in him or his friends that she describes. Sure, they are boisterous. Sure, they are twenty-something young men. Sure, they spend time joshing each other – and Milo – and telling joke…

St. Milo the Dangerous and the Dragon of Chaos

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This time last year, I thought I had myself pretty well sorted out. I had gotten over my writer's block and was looking forward to getting my book manuscript finished. I had qualified for the USA Veteran Fencing Team for 2016 and was going to Germany in October to compete in the World Championships. I was even making what felt like real progress in learning the fiddle. Sure, I was heavier than I liked, but all things considered I was doing well. I was going to be on leave for the Autumn and Winter terms, which meant going to Germany would not cut into my teaching schedule, and I was reasonably confident that I would be able to finish the revisions on my book in time to submit my manuscript to my publisher before going back to the classroom in the Spring. It was going to be a relaxing nine months, or so I thought. Little did I know how dangerous--and exhilarating--my year would be!

I have lost track of how many times I have told the story. About how our deans sent out the letter ex…

Three Kraters Symposium: How I Met Milo

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This Symposium is a group of friends who came together over Facebook this winter in support of my writing about Milo on this blog. This is our first episode. Our lighting is bad, our sound quality leaves much to be desired, and we all need to work on our resting bitch faces (except Shelley!). But we love Milo and wanted to give you the DL on how I started following his tour and what happened to me on campus when I wrote a piece for our Divinity School newsletter, "Why Milo Scares Students, and Faculty Even More." The rest is...dangerous! Watch episode here.

The Most Dangerous Bear

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We're number one!

On Pronouns, and Blowing Your Nose

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Back in the Middle Ages--according to J.S. Mill--it was possible to be an individual. Not. Any. More.

As Mill argued in his On Liberty(1859):
In sober truth, whatever homage may be professed, or even paid, to real or supposed mental superiority, the general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendent power among mankind.  In ancient history, in the middle ages, and in a diminishing degree through the long transition from feudality to the present time, the individual was a power in himself; and if he had either great talents or a high social position, he was a considerable power.  At present individuals are lost in the crowd. In politics it is almost a triviality to say that public opinion now rules the world. The only power deserving the name is that of masses, and of governments while they make themselves the organ of the tendencies and instincts of masses. Mill’s contemporary Jacob Burckhardt begged to disagree. Publishing his Die Cultur der Renaiss…

Self-Authoring Meta-Tale

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“I will tell you the tale of Tinúviel,” said Strider, “in brief--for it is a long tale of which the end is not known...” It was not the thing that I expected to find most difficult about doing Professor Peterson’s Self-Authoring Present: Virtues and Faults.

Confessing my sins to the world? No problem! I have been doing that on this blog for nine years now, which is why I started after Easter with my Faults, to get warmed up. Plus, it seemed appropriate to do a confessional novena, having been newly confirmed as a Catholic. Writing about my Virtues after Pentecost was more challenging. I have a hard time seeing my strengths as strengths. I tend to want to change them into Faults so as not to feel like I am bragging.

But writing stories to illustrate my Virtues and Vices? That should have been easy! Like a good Franciscan preacher, I know the value of exempla. Except, it seems, when it comes to my own life.

I have spent my life “self-authoring” in one guise or another. The diary that I …