…And now, at my advanced age — absolutely unexpectedly — I write a blog.
For one such as I, steeped in the ethos of the fourth fifth of the twentieth century, this will not be easy. What recourse have I? Only to say what I think. Curmudgeonry is yet the privilege of age.
I absolutely do not comprehend the online world. Things move too quickly. The fleeting thoughts, the fleeting images of postmodernism find no easy habitation in my mind.
And that’s how I perceive the internet, html, blogs, and the rest — as fleeting. Better, I say, the printed word. Better, I say, the permanence of parchment, even the semi-permanence of pulp, than the indeterminancy of the binary impulse. Better the stone and mortar. Better the enduring things.
For once an idea has been subjected to print, to cast it away is not easy. The book burners, in their various guises, have tried their best, but have not succeeded. Only a single volume, a single page, need survive, and the idea survives.
Contrarily, to delete an internet thought is the act of an individual. Not even malevolence is required. A bad mood is enough. Ctrl-alt-delete.
Or more chillingly, the totalitarian state may easily track where good ideas reside, and crush them. And those who dare express them.
But bad ideas — commonplaces, cliches — ah, they survive! On the internet they find their home. And multiply. Just google a concept that has grasped your mind and you will find — on dozens of sites — an identical, repeated, vapid mass.
Plagiarism is no longer dishonor. It’s the easy way.
But to find something original on the internet is rare (though I concede, not impossible).
Of course, there is the ray of hope that Google Books and Google Scholar may be the means by which the wisdom of the ages — or even the new wisdom — will be digitally preserved. Maybe. But let us hope there will be multiply redundant sites.
And let us further hope that the ruling class lapses into that deep torpor that is its profound essence.
Maybe then we will have a chance.
But I doubt it.
And so I will retain my cache of books. And obsessively commit to paper that which I find of interest on the web — and of course what I write here.
Given that most of my myriad projects are inchoate or incomplete; that I am busy dealing with the necessities of life; and that it is unclear when or if I will finish any particular project — I have decided to include in this site projects that are as yet unfinished. They will be added to as time and my schedule allow.
Such essays, studies and projects that are not advanced to a reasonable level, however, will be excluded.
For example, I am working on a presidential decathlon study ( i.e., how would the US presidents be ranked if they were to compete in a decathlon against each other).
A couple of snippets:
Who was the only president (as far as I have been able to research) who, as a high schooler, won a medal in his state’s track and field finals? (Gerald Ford)
Who was the only other president who competed as a high schooler in his state finals track and field meet? (Ronald Reagan)
Which president is said to have long jumped 22 feet 3 inches? (George Washington)
Which president was called “remarkably athletic” by his schoolmates, and was an exceptional quarter-miler? (Andrew Jackson)
More to come.
Also to come: essays on artificial intelligence, the Jesus-Y, and the surprising nature of political conservatism/liberalism.