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Tarpeian Rock

An Annual Literary Magazine

"Hinc ad Tarpeiam sedem et Capitolia ducit
aurea nunc, olim siluestribus horrida dumis."

                    --Virgil's Aeneid, VIII, l. 347-8
Articles from
the 2003 issue...

Postmodern Post-Mortem

The First Attack That United the World

Postmodern Post-Mortem

by Anthony P. Schiavo, Jr.

On January 10, 1963, A. S. Herlong, a Democrat congressman from Florida read a strange list, known as the “Current Communist Goals,” into the Congressional Record. Originally lifted from a book called The Naked Communist by Cleon Skousen, the list seemed at the time to be an alarmist sequence of unattainable military, political, and cultural threats posed by international communism against the free world. Most intriguing among these are the cultural goals:
Now, whether or not one is willing to don the tinfoil hat and buy into the notion that communist partisans have been covertly working toward these goals for the past forty years, it is undeniable that atheism, amorality, vulgarity, and emptiness have conquered the arts.

Shapeless, awkward, and meaningless forms now dominate the landscape. Walking through the campus of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo several years ago, I was dismayed to see the “sculpture” scattered around campus—rusting hulks of iron that bore little resemblance to anything outside of a scrap metal yard.

Ugliness, repulsiveness, and meaninglessness in graphic art have also become a plague. Blasphemy is considered chic. Works that combine blasphemy with scatological themes such as Piss Christ or The Holy Virgin Mary smeared with elephant feces are especially treasured by our post-modern academia and cultural elite.

Literature, cinema, radio, and television are not unaffected by this scourge. Nihilism, atheism, and obscenity are common fixtures in all of these media to an extent that would have been unimaginable forty years ago.

Architecture suffers as well. One need not be an art critic to realize that the brand new $192 million Our Lady of the Angels cathedral in Los Angeles is an ill-shapen megalithic monstrosity. It is little more than a warehouse with a bell-tower—and an ugly warehouse at that. And when one considers the beautiful 19th century Romanesque cathedral it replaced—with its ties to two millennia of ecclesiastical artistic tradition—the tragedy becomes complete.
These post-modern atrocities have made such headway not through any merit of their own, but through a surrender of the field by those who should naturally oppose them. The armies of artistic tolerance have decreed that the most awful filth should be given a fair showing and in many cases, pride of place. Not wanting to be viewed as intolerant—that most egregious of all post-modern sins—the decent, polite mass of society has patted them on the head like spoiled children. We dare not raise any objection lest a temper tantrum of scurrilous accusations and epithets result. Well, after forty years of shock, junk, vulgarity, and nonsense, the bloom is clearly off the fungus. The spectacular success of movies like Gladiator, Braveheart, and The Sixth Sense points toward a yearning for works with positive messages and unmistakable nods toward history, tradition, and Judeo-Christian spirituality—three taboos that are hardly ever addressed in post-modern schlock art and literature, except as objects of ridicule. Rather than continue to whine and complain about the dominance of post-modernism, the time is ripe for our side to counter-attack.

The Tarpeian Rock is a foot-soldier in that counter-attack. In this, our inaugural issue, you will find work from authors who are unknown or underappreciated. Our objective is to present works of high quality that are enjoyable, clever, thought-provoking, uplifting, humorous, and ultimately gratifying. We were highly intolerant when it came to selecting works for inclusion. We hope that you will read the works herein with the same discerning eye.

If you appreciate what we’ve done here, we’d love to hear from you— If you’d like to give us an earful of petulant post-modern absurdist free verse, please use our alternate email address—

Now removing tinfoil hat….

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