I think I first began to appreciate the problem presented by American individualism, when I had Thanksgiving dinner with a family of eccentrics. They had little or no connection to the small community where their house was located–they had picked the town, decades earlier, by throwing a dart at the map, and most of them had long since scattered across the country. They had picked their religions with almost the same insouciance: one was a Buddhist, another an atheist humanist, another (the only apparently sane member of the tribe) an Episcopalian, and another–a girl I had known in graduate school–a...
Frank Brownlow’s post of a few days ago has made me want to continue the discussion it began, but the truth is, it ain’t simple. I’m at a disadvantage, because Dr. Brownlow’s is an eagle’s eye view of the paradox of culture under totalitarianism, whereas what I want to respond with is a worm’s eye view of the underlying evidentiary base
In the 50s and 60s both sides, left and right offered some resistance to the triumph of what we can call, in contrast to the true, the good, and the beautiful, the untrue, the bad, and the ugly. Oddly enough, the liberal-left put up a surprisingly good fight, something hard to believe these days when NPR punctuates its news broadcasts with rap music.
If any of Trump’s supporters thought they were voting to restore they old American Republic, this is a time for bitter repentance. If they merely hoped they would get someone to play the man, they still have reason to hope that on balance they did the right thing.
Born Out of Due Time, a Fantasy by Ched Rayson. Chapter Three, Part A. Available to Silver, Gold, and Charter Subscribers
Fly to Mexico City some time and go to the Museum of Meso-American antiquities in Chapultepec Park. They don’t pull any punches. I had real nightmares for several days after seeing the so-called ‘Aztec Calendar.’ It was actually a sacrificial stone depicting their sun god. His tongue is shaped into an obsidian knife that was used to cut the beating heart of the victims who were still alive.”
“Why did they do that?”
“Maybe they thought it tasted better that way. The biggest food fad in China these days is to eat live animals while they are still squirming in the mouth.
Early specialization has eliminated the common culture that could produce a D’ Arcy Thompson or an Anthony Powell or a Douglas Young, and we are left with an intellectual life dominated by trained savages who can do their job, understand (perhaps) some little corner of the universe (and, in the case, of cosmologists, that corner is very tiny, indeed!), but they cannot integrate what they have learned into a larger picture. Read popular books by scientists, and whenever they step outside their field of specialization, they either fall back on the platitudes of the Durants or, what is worse, rely...
The late Charley Reese got the gun issue right: “Some might say the Second Amendment is obsolete. Our own century shows us that it is not. Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Fidel Castro, Pol Pot and Mao all saw to it that people were disarmed prior to commencing their reigns of terror and tyranny. God forbid, but Americans, too, could find themselves some day having to choose between submission or resistance to a tyrant.”