Thursday, November 24, 2005

Derb, Doom, and Gloom

Anyone familiar with this blog will know that (A) I am a big fan of the writing of John Derbyshire and that, (B) despite the general cheerfulness of this blog, I run a regular feature called "Doom and Gloom'. For the life of me, I can't see why one cannot see that while we are all doomed in the end, and that even civilizations-- all of them-- eventually fall, we must both be as happy as we are able, and do our work cheerfully, sometimes stoically, and well. As Yeats wrote, "All things fall and are built again,/ And all who build them again are gay."

So when his fellow journalists at NRO and its Corner give John grief for his pessimism, it irritates me. One of the most childish things about the "new" conservatism is that it has the same air of triumphalism, of "Immanentizing the Eschaton" (William F. Buckley himself- look it up) that utopian socialism (and for that matter some libertarianism) has. When young NR writer James Robbins, in a Candidean- Pollyanna- ish essay actually entitled "The Best of Times" (he means it !) says that "Conservatives tend to approach things with a sense of optimism and faith in human potential", I wonder exactly what kind of "conservative" believes in unconstrained human goodness and endless progress. That's not conservatism- it's Republican, Walt Disney boosterism. Perhaps Robbins should read Bill Buckley's recently- reprinted tribute to Whittaker Chambers, a man of Dostoevskian gloom lightened by a twinkle, a refusal to despair. But there are no links-- perhaps it doesn't fit the zietgeist.

For an antidote, try some triple- proof Derb here and here.

Here is an interview with Derbyshire at the Science blog Gene Expression. My favorite quote: "Having a well- thought- out world view can make a person narrow and arrogant." Maybe that is why I can't bring myself to join/ trust parties and movements of any kind?

And for something completely different, check out this link, where he reads poetry aloud, an activity to be commended and indulged in at every opportunity. How about some Kipling, John? McDonagh's Song? The Song of the Dead? The Road Through the Woods? In the Neolithic Age? A Pict Song?

1 comment:

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