Weekday Reading #6

C. S Lewis: Talking about Bicycles

If someone is complaining, it makes a good deal of difference whether they are complaining because they have never been Enchanted by the thing, or if they are complaining because they have been Disenchanted.

[Suppose] you read an author in whom love is treated as lust and all war as murder—and so forth. But are you reading a Disenchanted man or only an Unenchanted man? Has the writer been through the Enchantment and come out on to the bleak highlands, or is he simply a subman who is . . . free from the heroic mirage as a coward is free? If Disenchanted, he may have something worthwhile to say, though less than a Re-enchanted man. If Unenchanted, into the fire with his book. He is talking of what he doesn’t understand. But the great danger we have to guard against in this age is the Unenchanted man, mistaking himself for, and mistaken by others for, the Disenchanted man.”

In the same way, if someone is lauding something, it makes a good deal of difference whether they are only Enchanted, or if they have passed through Disenchantment and become Re-enchanted.

Stupid and Evil in Equal Measure Part II

Heavily bureaucratised Western governments are a recent development. They are a product of the Industrial Revolution and the mass society that it enabled. Before the modern bureaucratic apparatus arose, governments behaved more legibly, towards a much more confined set of purposes. Primarily, they collected taxes and waged wars. What the bureaucracy has brought us, is a wealth of ancillary government functions that nobody even 100 years ago could have imagined, together with a suite of bizarre and unpredictable behaviour that nobody can explain. Corona has been an object lesson in all of the truly crazy and destructive things a broadly distributed bureaucratic policy consensus founded upon false premises can achieve.

Youngkin Won by Campaigning on Cultural Issues 

There are a number of lessons for those of us on the real right—not the GOP establishment—to learn from Tuesday’s election in Virginia.

First, Republican Glenn Youngkin’s victory came not so much from bringing the races and parties together, as the usual suspects on Fox News declared, but rather because he won Republican counties in Southwestern Virginia and traditionally Republican suburbs by a larger margin than Trump. Youngkin also flipped some suburbs from blue to red and kept his losses down in Northern Virginia better than recent Republican candidates.

Peak Antinatalism

Last week, another piece of the vaccine mythology unraveled.

In a new examination of the CDC’s study on the effects of the Covid-19 vaccine on pregnant women, two doctors from New Zealand found the shot caused 82 to 91 percent of women in their first trimester to experience a “spontaneous abortion,” or miscarriage. This figure is seven to eight times higher than the average rate of pregnancy loss for women in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The original CDC study claims only 12.6 percent of the vaccinated pregnant women had a spontaneous abortion during the course of the study, on par with typical early pregnancy loss. However, the majority of women studied—between 700 to 713 of 827—were exposed to the vaccine after the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, the most vulnerable stage. Of those who were early in their pregnancy, the miscarriage rate was far higher. Doctors Aleisha Brock and Simon Thornley concluded not only that the original CDC study is misleading, but that the vaccine should not be recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, as well as children and anyone in the general population of childbearing age, due to this high incidence of miscarriage.

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November 12, 2021 7:22 pm

If you are “disenchanted”, does that mean that you have seen both sides of the argument and changed opinion as the information changed…. Or that you are emotionally over-reacting in the negative where you were previously over-reacting in the positive?

I could possibly phrase that better, but I’m curious. Lewis is an excellent thinker but some of his points are hard work to follow.

Roger W
Roger W
November 12, 2021 9:10 pm

Well, if you are a Democrat, or anyone on the left, you are very likely to be a big supporter of abortion.
Having 7 to 8 times as many early miscarriages would therefore be a feature of the vaccine, not a problem.

Bruce of Newcastle
Bruce of Newcastle
November 12, 2021 9:45 pm

Lewis begins the essay with an apparently mundane conversation:

“Talking about bicycles,” said my friend, “I have been through the four ages. I can remember a time in early childhood when a bicycle meant nothing to me: it was just part of the huge meaningless background of grown-up gadgets against which life went on. Then came a time when to have a bicycle, and to have learned to ride it, and to be at last spinning along on one’s own, early in the morning, under trees, in and out of the shadows, was like entering Paradise. That apparently effortless and frictionless gliding—more like swimming than any other motion, but really most like the discovery of a fifth element—that seemed to have solved the secret of life. Now one would begin to be happy. But, of course, I soon reached the third period. Pedaling to and fro from school (it was one of those journeys that feel up-hill both ways) in all weathers, soon revealed the prose of cycling. The bicycle, itself, became to me what his oar is to a galley slave.”

“But what was the fourth age?” I asked.

“I am in it now, or rather I am frequently in it. I have had to go back to cycling lately now that there’s no car. And the jobs I use it for are often dull enough. But again and again the mere fact of riding brings back a delicious whiff of memory. I recover the feelings of the second age. What’s more, I see how true they were—how philosophical, even. For it really is a remarkably pleasant motion. To be sure, it is not a recipe for happiness as I then thought. In that sense the second age was a mirage. But a mirage of something.”

“How do you mean?” said I.

“I mean this. Whether there is, or whether there is not, in this world or in any other, the kind of happiness which one’s first experiences of cycling seemed to promise, still, on any view, it is something to have had the idea of it. The value of the thing promised remains even if that particular promise was false—even if all possible promises of it are false.”

Not false. I went through all four ages, and am now in the fifth age, where cycling is freedom. We now live in a time where it is a wonderful blessing to be able to ride on a bicycle without a mask and without plod tracking your every movement. I did 22 km today up hill and down dale. It was a rare breath of liberty.

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