On a cheery note, a display of death, here and there.
From Salon, a satirical excerpt from the book, “The Heming Way: How to Unleash the Booze-Inhaling, Animal-Slaughtering, War-Glorifying, Hairy-Chested, Retro-Sexual Legend Within… Just Like Papa!”
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966), by Robert A. Heinlein
This is an engaging science fiction work, one of Heinlein’s more popular books. Along with Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke, Heinlein was acclaimed one of the “Big Three” of science fiction. A “loonie,” (one born on the moon) computer programmer-maintenance man, named Manual, tells the story. He is often referred to as “Man” by “Mike,” the computer that controls everything. Mike talks, has apparent feelings and a conscience, and tells jokes—and the two of them are critically involved in an eventual “declaration of independence” of their polygamous penal colony from “Terra.” This, of course, results in a rock-throwing war using moon-based catapults slamming into the earth. To make things more interesting, there is also an attractive and liberated woman Wyoming Knott, a “slot-machine sheila”—just don’t say “Why Not.” And there is a distinguished “rational anarchist” professor, Bernardo de la Paz, who organizes the revolution.
From Glenn Reynolds, a reference to Walter Russell Mead‘s brilliant analysis of Donald Kagan’s Peloponnesian War and the vulnerability of democracies. It sure made me think; as if to say, “you mean that some of my cherished beliefs about commerce, trade, and democratic governance making a more peaceful world aren’t necessarily true?” Or worse, its “pious, nonsensical claptrap?” Ouch.
The Mead article in its entirety:
Details at mental_floss, and below:
1. Common Sense by Thomas Paine (52 pages)
In the 1770s, American colonists were riding the fence. Should they cut ties with the tax-happy King George or just sit around drinking English tea? As they waffled, a penniless Brit named Thomas Paine sailed to Philadelphia and published the incendiary tract Common Sense.
Released in 1776, Paine’s text lambasted King George as a “crowned ruffian” and the progeny of a “French bastard.” The language struck a nerve, turning loyalists into patriots and nudging the likes of George Washington and John Adams into action. Less than six months later, the colonies declared independence, and the Revolutionary War was on. As for Paine, he went on to write another powerful little book, The Age of Reason, a deist work that criticized organized religion and questioned the authenticity of the Bible. This time, however, Paine’s words missed the mark. He was condemned as an atheist, shunned by friends, and denied citizenship in the United States—the young nation he helped create.
I am not familiar with the subject of the piece, Paul Goodman, probably because I was not interested in “a bisexualist, a poverty cultist, an anarchist,” as William Buckley once introduced Mr. Goodman, or a self-described “man of letters,” or the “new left” way back in ancient times…although I did read some Alan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti in the 1960s. Perhaps I wasn’t paying attention and simply missed him.
The article is revealing; and I latched on to three central ideas: (1) his rebellion against the necessity of “socialization” to the “establishment consensus,” which could be interpreted any number of ways in 2010; (2) his dislike of bureaucracy, and what he called “acquiescence to the social machine;” and (3) “his refusal to trust any party when it came to waging war or safeguarding civil liberties….” Hmmm.
At Mullholland Books is an article titled, B. Traven: The Writer Who Wasn’t There, or A Case for His Works. For those that may not recall, B. Traven wrote The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, a good read and an excellent John Huston directed 1948 movie with Humphrey Bogart. The author of the article, Cortright McMeel, believes Traven has been neglected as one of the great adventure novelists of the 20th Century and asks, “Why?” He says,
“Perhaps because the author who wrote such adventure masterpieces as The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Death Ship, and General from the Jungle is a mystery himself. He might have been Otto Feige, the son of a Polish potter. He also could have been the anarchist actor Ret Marut, who ended up in a London prison before traveling to Mexico. Two contradictory biographies present each case with compelling fact and argument. Whoever B. Traven was will no doubt always be shrouded in secrecy because that is the way the reclusive author wanted it.”
He then gives a pretty good case for including him with the greats (found at the above link).
The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant—1968
This is less a book review and more an outline of the Durant’s remarkable little summary. It is one of my favorite non-fiction books, although that is often a moving target. It’s also fodder for further exploration and possibly forthcoming essays. All items emphasized are mine, not the authors.