A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

I Appear To Have Created An Immense Uproar...

...over on the blog All Things Beautiful. To the point where the hostess over there, Alexandra Von Maltzen, decided to waste an incredible amount of her own bandwidth quoting from these humble pages and excoriating them. What a pity. I have obviously worn out my welcome, so I won't bother to reply over there. You can go and read it all if you have the time.

If you do, you can tell her for me that I wish her well on the rest of her journey.

The popular success of her blog matters a great deal to her, for she has not reached the point where age and illness teach you that the face of success and the face of failure are the same face, and that, of the two, failure benefits you more. So give her as much traffic as you can, and when time all the awards come round again, vote her up as high as possible.

I am blogger who writes purely for a hobby, to ease the cares of a mind and heart that endlessly watches, watches, watches, and used to be able to roam for hours looking at every detail of land or house or sky, but now must, for mental health's sake, confine his attentions to the simplest, plainest, and blandest things. In the reflections of my thinking and the dismay for what my country has become, I have stepped in the public space of the virtual world to confront the politics which has transformed America into something much less than it was in my youth.

I can do little now to take back what is left of America and try to put it in order. But what I can do is write and what I have done is write rather bluntly, in direct confrontation with those who, for what they honestly think are the best of reasons, have been in the forefront of that politics which has made the America of my youth evaporate, and turned it into the dismay of thinking people in the rest of the world.

As people go, my adversaries are generally good people and not evil people, and, while I have been forthright, I have an obligation to acknowledge all the good that I can in them, and wish them the best, personally, that they can find in this life and the rest of their lives.

So I can say unequivocally that you should read All Things Beautiful for all the good that is in it.

The burden of writing bluntly is that it occasionally gets you into a brawl, from which you can leave with a black eye, if no worse. And I have just emerged from one, which ended at best indecisively, and at worst to my discredit. I'll leave you to judge which, if you care to spend the time on it.

But no one can brawl 24/7, and certainly not I--for I am too old, too tired, and too ill for it. So I must rest for a space and wait for what may be the last chance, in November of this year, for a final and decisive fight to save the last fragments of what is left of the country I once knew.

And if I, and my fellow travellers, lose that fight, I can only wish our adversaries, such as Alexandra, the pleasure of their victory and its fruits. But I do not think such things will last long for them after they achieve it.

I have dropped the burden of clinging to many things, and perhaps someday I can even drop the burden of clinging to what I cared for in the past. For those things have mostly vanished for me without my fully losing the yearning for them: reading, making photographs, writing as a scholar, listening to fine music, working with wood. From gripeing habit it still pains me to think of the pleasure I took in them, though all such pleasure has vanished.

That pain is a teacher, and one of the best teachers I have. It has taught me far more than those pleasures ever did.

The lesson is simple: meetings lead to partings, possession leads to loss, birth leads to death.

Some day, in this life or another, I will be able to act on that lesson without distraction, and, most importantly, without self-distraction, and I will lose that final and painful craving and yearing. In this life, at least, I have learned that it is possible to do this.

Some day, in this life or another, the people whom I have brawled with may get the chance to do this too. I hope they take it, if they do.

And, until then, I hope that life hands them pleasure without depriving them of accomplishing any goal they wish to achieve.

Even if it is merely to be known as one of the best bloggers in the world.

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