OK, back in the saddle after family ski vacation. Before tackling the
e-mail mountain I thought I’d catch up on The Corner. Couple of points.
Jonah—”Elizabethan collar”? Boris just calls it a ruff. Ruff, ruff.
Conservative movie—Tally one vote for “Lonely are the Brave.” I’m not
sure why this is conservative, and given the tnedencies of the Douglas
family, it has no right to be. All I can tell you is, I am as conservative
as you can be without falling off the right-hand end of the bench, and I
love that movie.
Mark Steyn on Cole Porter—Shoulda known the Steynmeister would spot that.
Well, I SAID I was working from memory. Readers familiar only with Mark’s
political stuff may not be aware that he also knows absolutely everything
about 20th-century showbiz. This side of Mark is seen to best advantage in
his theater criticism in The New Criterion . A
recent piece, for example, revealed that not only has Mark read everything
Frank L. Baum ever wrote, he is also familiar with every single stage
adaptation of the Oz stories there has ever been–including eight (I
think–I am going on memory again) musicals. He probably knows who did Judy
Garland’s nails. If “genius of opinion journalism” is a thing it is
possible to be, Mark is one. I H-A-T-E him.
Left Behind—The movie version of the Book of Revelation. Saw it (the
first movie, that is–there is a whole series) at my host’s house. Now, I
don’t read the Bible–certainly not Revelation–as a fundamentalist, but I
am open-minded about the general notion of divine intervention in human
affairs, including intervention on the Armageddon scale. Yet I must say.
“Left Behind” left me behind, and unimpressed. It–and, I think, all
similar scenarios about God stepping in & winding things up–suffer from
what the philosopher A.N. Whitehead called “misplaced concreteness.” That
kind of thing is good (well, average) sci-fi, but it seems to me, in some
profound way, unimaginative–like the comic-book vision of Heaven as a sort
of sunlit park with folk wandering around in togas smiling at each other.
The Divinity, it seems to me, ought to be above sci-fi stunts; and like Dr.
Johnson, I think it is pointless to speculate about what things are like in
the next world, as it is very unlikely we can imagine that world, even to an
Dr. Johnson—The wisest man that ever lived. No, that’s not quite right;
he sometimes contradicted himself and said silly things. (See Macaulay’s
essay on him for the details.) But his insights into the everyday human
condition, on the nature of hope (especially) and desire and motivation,
have no parallel that I know of. You know how sometimes someone says
something penetrating about life, and you nod and say (or think): “Yep, you
nailed it.” Johnson was a superb nailer. Nice to see Peter Robinson bring
up that “Rambler” quote. But you could open Johnson’s works at pretty much
any page and come up with something as good. I am a Johnson fanatic from
way back, but I have to restrain myself from quoting him–he’s TOO quotable,
has a word for evey occasion.
OK, enough procrastination. To the Inbox! Happy New Year everybody!