VIDEO: “The Mysticism of Small Things: Recognizing the Eternal in the Objects and Events of Every Day”

This is for those of you who loved the last post, “The Writer,” by Richard Wilbur, especially Seth and Anna, who do not know each other but are kindred spirits in their appreciation of beautiful things. (Seth, meet Anna — I used to work with her; Anna, meet Seth — I used to go to school with him.) You will love this, too, and for the same reasons.

The rest of you will love it, too.

All who watch: it’s 56:42 long. Give yourself an uninterrupted hour, and make sure that you can hear. He’s got a great voice. Not what you’d necessarily think of when you hear the words “great voice”, but more of an intriguing voice. A delightful voice.

The man is Joseph Bottum. His bio is given quite well by one of the gents in the video (I think the one that introduces the one that introduces him, but I’m not sure, and I’m lazy enough that I’m not going to click ahead and see). Among other things, Bottum is a poet and a philosopher. According to a friend of mine, “he’s too much of a poet to be a good philosopher, and too much of a philosopher to be a good poet.” I’m not sure if that’s accurate, my friend’s attempt at acerbic wit and disaffection, both, neither, my ass, or a hole in the ground, but it’s at least an indication that Bottum understands a bit about both poetry and philosophy.

He’s got a Ph.D in Medieval Philosophy. Cool.

My alma mater, Hillsdale College, hosted this lecture at the Allan P. Kirby, Jr., Center for Citizenship and The Constitution Affixed to the Soil of the District of Columbia by the Special Providence of God — Who is American and a Card-Carrying Republican — for the Restoration of All that is Good and Right and America, But I Repeat Myself. Sure, it’s a long title, but we forgive it, because the Kirb, as I call it, hosts a lot of events that are fun to attend. Many of them are lectures, almost all of which are terrible, unless you’re a pseudo-intellectual wonky sort who conflates patriotism and religion and likes to gladhand a bunch of people who are exactly like himself in the hopes of getting the card of someone “important.” But the events are fun, anyway: the rest of us go because we know that there’s free booze and hors-d’oeuvre and that our friends are going for the same reason, so we’ll see them, too.

Imagine my surprise when the Kirb hosted a lecture that wasn’t awful. Imagine it! Imagine me, and then imagine me, but surprised. That’s pretty much how it was!

This lecture was great. It still is, in its video-preserved form (isn’t the internet amazing?) It had nothing to do with politics, which was also great. Yes, yes — I’m sure that if enough people read this, I’ll be sure to get one who wants to remind me in the comments that politics is the “architectonic science,” and thus everything has to do with it. It’s a boring conversation, and I’m not very interested in having it. If such a comment shows up, I guarantee that I will respond very halfheartedly and make it so tedious for the interlocutor that he’ll want to stop belaboring this utterly prosaic point.

Perhaps most importantly of all (and then again, perhaps not), I’m the second commenter, in case you can’t tell from the strong stentorian tone of voice and the iridescent erudition. Ha!

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.




  1. I’m honored!

    I’ll watch this as soon as possible, but I wanted to tell you that I laughed very aloud in a very public place at the Full Title of the Kirby Center.

    You’re awesome. Scratch that. God is awesome & you’re pretty cool.

Comments are closed.