Long-time readers of Gates of Vienna know how much we admire the perceptions of James Lewis. These days he mostly writes for The American Thinker, as you can see from his archives page .
For a brief month in December 2006 he had a blog aptly named Dangerous Times. Reading those few entries almost seven years later, I still feel a sense of loss that he retired from the fray so soon. But then perhaps the requirements of his job(s) didn’t leave enough time. On his About page, he says he’s a writer, scientist and consultant. A commenter or two feel compelled to deride this self-description. Odd, isn’t it, how the anonymity of the intertubes doth make rude bullies of so many? And here I thought those were just Norwegian character traits [this is a Joke. Chuckle here; nudge Fjordman] but not seen much outside, say, Oslo. Or perhaps Palestine? I wish.
Some other time this week I might reminisce on my introduction to Lewis’ essays, but for the moment let’s just consider this fine piece from last week, concerning the hard realities of foreign policy. No, it’s not about “why can’t we all just get along?”, even though the residual four year-old in all of us still whispers such sentiments sometimes. When we’re tired of it all, when we’re called once too often to witness another episode in the eternal betrayals and treasons, how tempting it is to turn away from “the punctual rape of every blesséd day” and pursue something simpler, something less fraught…with ambiguities, with slaughter…[I was going to say “senseless slaughter” until I saw again that any such event is already truly without sense, deprived surely of Reason].
We see the name of his blog, “Dangerous Times”, above. I don’t know about his other writings, but he assigned the same tag to this most recent essay. Perhaps he uses it for all his work, or perhaps he saves it to designate those writings he would have in his blog were he still maintaining one.
His theses in this current essay are plainly stated. So plain they make you say, “Oh, I could’ve written that…if I’d thought to say it”…a sure sign of a good writer is the way he speaks not just to you, but also for you. Inevitably when we call a writer “good” we simply mean he expresses for us what we knew in some inchoate sense. It’s probably why so many admired Lawrence Auster’s work. Even when you didn’t agree with him, you knew he was speaking for more than just himself.
Notice that the title of my post is not the same as the one Mr. Lewis chose for his essay here. But it’s another facet of the discussion just the same. Who wants to be stuck with a truly insane neighbor?* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I certainly disliked it when a grumpy grievance collector built a house nearby, on property he’d inherited from his grandmother.
Max was, if not mad in the lunatic sense, certainly mean and angry and unable to be assuaged. He hated most everyone and most everyone found it tedious. But not surprisingly for someone who’d spent his adult years in the big city, he had a special grievance against white folks. He was annoyed to find his kin didn’t share this attitude. Not only didn’t share it, but tried to train him out of it. I’ll never forget the day his niece dragged Mad Max to our front door and made him apologize and give me a hug. Yeah, I had a big smile when Sarah explained why they’d come. I could tell it like to have killed him, having to touch me. But Max knew he wasn’t getting off our porch or out of Sarah’s clutches till he put on a neighborly smile. “Fake it” is what she said, right in his face with their noses almost touching.
You couldn’t help but notice people didn’t like Max right back, though not in equal measure. You have to be at it a long time to be at Max levels of misanthropy. We didn’t have a party when he pulled up stakes and stomped back to the big city taking his big city ways with him, but there was indeed a collective sigh of relief as he drove away. Now that fine big house, too fine and too big for our modest neighborhood, stands empty and unsold. In our sickly economy, this new white elephant has now become Max’s folly, his final albatross. Sometimes Karma is one tough dude.
We liked his wife, but Tess was a bred-in-the-bone city girl; she wanted to be able to walk to the corner store if she felt like it…she was particularly a virtuous wife for at least attempting to help her husband realize his childhood dream of returning in glory to the scenes of his childhood. The only problem was the homeplace was gone and so were all of the old folks. No audience had he when he strode onto that stage, ready to take command of us rubes.
I thought of our ex-neighbors while reading Mr. Lewis’ essay. Max didn’t deal with reality very well, but he was fortunate not to have encountered a Vladimir during his sojourn here. I do declare, though, this piece gives me some ideas for the future should Max decide to return “home” again:* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Dangerous Times: Does Putin want a Nuclear Suicide Cult Next Door?
When it comes to survival, nations act in their own interest. All talk about friendship and personal warmth between national leaders is pure fairy dust. That’s for the goo-goos, while political leaders need to deal with reality.
“Goo-goos”?? Oh, he means the kumbiyah folks. They don’t always want everyone to get along, but have you noticed they always pick out a designated victim and a designated bully ahead of time? Reason has nothing to do with their choices. It’s all about how they feel. Might as well spit in the wind as try to bring Reason into their monologue about the feelings they have for PoorPalis™ friends.