The Surrealistic World Of Michael Porfirio (Podcast)

This podcast is a change of pace. I talk about one of my favorite Twitter accounts, the account of @MichaelPorfirio, and I discuss why I think it actually has, in its own distinctive surrealistic way, legitimate artistic merit.
Sometimes we need to be thrown curve balls here and there, to keep us all on our toes.

Continue reading

Removing The Veils Of False Modesty: The Life-Affirming Philosophy Of Al-Salami

The name Muhammad al-Salami (محمد السلامي) (A.D. 948–1003) is nearly unknown in the West, but occupies a prominent position in medieval Arabic poetry.  The genius of his metaphors, the richness of his turns of phrase, and the elegance of his diction can be felt even through the fog of translation; and we will do our best to pay him homage here.  The anthologist Abu Mansur al-Tha’alibi called him:

Continue reading

The Right Man In The Right Place Can Make All The Difference

There are times in history where the right man in the right place can make all the difference.  Accidents of fate, the changing circumstances of fortune, and the randomness of events all conspire to turn predictability into uncertainty; yet a man of learning, vision, and character may, at times, interpose himself in the middle of these whirlwinds and by his actions change the course of history.  It happens all the time.

Continue reading

Adam Olearius: Amazing Travels And Explorations In Russia And Persia

In the early seventeenth century, the steppes of Russia were almost entirely unknown to western Europeans.  Forests were thicker than they are now, roads were fewer and more difficult to navigate, and travel required much more money and resources than it does now.  One had to be sponsored by a wealthy patron, or be an official representative of a government.  It is to this latter category that the German explorer Adam Olearius (1599–1671)  belonged; he was one of the first westerners to penetrate deeply into Russia and Persia, and the account he left behind is one of the more fascinating works of travel literature that I have seen in recent years.

Continue reading

The Counsel Of Helios To A Noble Youth

There is a fable told in the Roman emperor Julian’s oration To the Cynic Heracleios that is worth relating and discussing.  The fable is rather involved, but we will extract its relevant parts here.  The god Hermes once appeared before a youth who, though virtuous and good, was having some difficulties in life.  Hermes said to the young man:

Continue reading

The Imperative Of Discovery: Charles Sturt’s Australian Explorations (Podcast)

After saying a few words about the great explorers and travelers of the past, and explaining why a study of their exploits is more important for us than ever before, I give a podcast reading of my most recent article, Charles Sturt: A Pioneer Of Australian Exploration.

Continue reading