No one wraps up the NR fundraising cruise experience like Jay Nordlinger, but he missed a few highlights. No, not the triplet-witches dancing by the waterfall en route to Flam; not the Stavanger children’s museum that had an enormous fetus in the entryway with an umbilical cord the size of a garden hose. I mean the argument during the Cigar and Cognac night.
Charlie Cooke had put it to a fellow Brit that Rupert Brooke was not really a WWI poet, but rather an application of the Edwardian mindset applied to the new horrors of mechanized war. His interlocutor would have none of it, and his wife’s dudgeon was broad, high, and deep. I sided with Charlie because he is taller than I am, and also I saw his point. It’s like saying Norman Mailer was a Gulf War writer just because he penned something for Esquire. No: His was a Vietnam-era sensibility dragged into a new tableau. Anyway, you had to be there, I suppose — but if you read Charles in the Corner, you are there, every day.
Jay also missed the conversation I had at dinner with people who didn’t read the magazine, but devoured every post online. While I wished they enjoyed the pleasure of the magazine in physical form, they were a new type of NR patron: purely digital, mobile, looking for new content every 14 minutes instead of every 14 days. You may know this type, I suspect.
And of course there’s no way Jay could have met the couple who confessed that they’d taken the cruise because they wanted to go to Norway, had no idea what National Review was, but were enjoying all the lectures immensely. The wife-half of the couple noted that she was a longtime Democrat, and those of us on the NR side of the conversation nodded, biting our tongues, wondering when it had occurred to her that she was on a Ship Full of THEM.
But if you read NR online you’ve probably had the experience of wandering into a piece or tripping across a post whose subject matter was either something you’d never considered, or something you thought you had figured out. Perhaps you thought: hmm. Interesting. Good point. Well, drat; now I have to readjust my thinking accordingly.
Finally: Jay did not recount the evenings in the Crow’s Nest, where readers would meet Jonah or Ramesh or Geraghty or other favorite writers, and have a laugh, take issue with an old post long forgotten, break off and argue the matter with someone else. But if you’re here at the Corner you know what that’s like.
In short: For a small contribution you can experience everything about an NR cruise without the buffet lines and debarkation queues. Better: You can ensure that NR continues to make the points that need to be made by the people who make them better than anyone else on the right. So, please, won’t you give? Thanks!
— James Lileks writes the “Athwart” column for National Review.