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Chuck Todd on Meet the Press recently referred to the 2016 Presidential campaign as happening in the “post-truth world.”  Add this to the post-church world and the post-modern world, and what you have is a whole new world. Get on board, or not.

The very idea of a post-truth world sets my teeth on edge. Isn’t this a bit hyperbolic? There’s nothing new about news people making stuff up, right? Remember the Maine! (Citizen Kane) Boy sportscaster Ronald Reagan making up baseball play-by-play from newswire transmissions. Hildy Johnson (The Front Page) made up the news at a screwball pace.

Nonetheless, the very idea that Wayne’s World (Albania edition) is pumping out fake news just for kicks, and we’re buying it, is a bit much…isn’t it?

He was called a poet from the start, and commented about himself, “I’m a poet; I know it; I hope I don’t blow it.” (I Shall Be Free No. 10, 1962). His poetry was a medium inside a medium, delivering mind-shaping ideas and observations that confirmed our suspicions.

The Guardian, 6 April 1965

 

frontierland

09/04/2016 — Leave a comment

File Jul 02, 8 14 11 AMI recently completed a vacation trip to California from Illinois, by car: Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada—and returning through Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Minnesota. Open spaces, not many people, an amazing number of wind farms —a very different experience from what you see east of the Mississippi.

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen this country up close. There’s just so much land, ready and waiting to be populated. And things look clean and neat and prosperous…at least from the interstates. I imagined America one or two hundred years from now with our West transformed by a new economy and the movement of many millions of people out of the crowded East and into the land of the big sky and roaming buffalo.

But for now, it’s not that hard to see why this part of the country is mostly Red on certain maps. Out there, the land invites you to dream about having the space to grow into your potential, your own way—you and your family, or tribe, independent of big government, big money, big data, creating and living out your destiny expecting liberty and personal freedom to stake out your claim, build your homestead, and keep it safe and secure for generations. Oh, give me a home, where the introverts roam.

How different the open country and small-town America is from the big cities, or even the suburbs of the big cities, where life is dominated by the interdependence of things. We are completely dependent on governing authorities, institutions, and businesses for safety, order, employment, income, opportunity, education, growth, entertainment, and fulfillment. We crave being settled in, with our basic necessities provided for, or at least with somewhere nearby to find anything we need or want. The dream of personal liberty is still alive, for most of us, but is tempered by the recognition that we find ourselves in the greatest country with the most prosperity in the world, wrapped in the cloak of semi-invisibility, which is not a bad thing.

But immigrants and Silicon Valley billionaire wannabes keep the dream alive. If you’re still new to the USA, you have come to live the dream and may have learned that as gold-lined as the streets may be, you have to excavate and sweat and persist to get your share. If you are new to a sense of personal wealth, that is, you reside in imaginary Silicon Valley, you can touch and taste being rich and that keeps you going toward personal freedom nirvana where money gets you in at the golden gate.

Anyway, when you travel out west, you feel the independence dream again, and it becomes easier to see why big skyers and small towners vote for the party of Jefferson, the brilliant gentleman, intellectual, slaver farmer. If it weren’t for the electoral college system, these folks wouldn’t stand a chance to be felt in presidential elections.

I loved our trip out West, to frontierland. All Americans should get out of the cities once now and again to see how healthy and friendly communities can be, not that it hasn’t taken generations of community-builders to make the great ones great. But community-building opportunity beckons, once again, out west, young people.

 

51V4VhwLlBL._SL500_AA300_PIaudible,BottomRight,13,73_AA300_I saw The Monuments Men movie recently and thought it lived up to the promotional interviews on Letterman and elsewhere with its various stars.

Several years ago, a rich Texan named Robert Edsel got interested and then got really interested in the story of the actual “Monuments Men” from World War II. His research and persistent efforts and cash resulted in a book, a PBS documentary, and now the movie and all the attendant publicity for a story we’d never heard before about Americans at war.

If there ever was a great example of why individual freedom must be the ultimate political and social goal for civilization, this is it on a couple of levels. First is the story of the original monuments men, and second is the story of how one person brought their heroics back to life. We should all be inspired and moved to action to help preserve personal freedom wherever we find it under attack.

I’m a lifelong fan of free enterprise. People should have all the freedom they need to try, fail and succeed at their own businesses. If they break the laws of God or man in doing so, they ought be regulated, prosecuted, and otherwise called to account. But they ought to have the chance.

When people are extremely successful in business, they tend to accumulate lots of cash, especially when they sell off their companies. It’s what they do with all that cash that’s the important thing. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Larry Ellison…these are the well-known stories.

Robert Edsel sold his oil business and moved to Italy, where his passion for the Monuments Men story began. You can read about it at MonumentsMen.com. (This isn’t Sony’s site about the movie.) Good for him, and us.

1968

07/22/2014 — Leave a comment

One Man's Meat1968 was the worst year ever. MLK and RFK. Riots. Viet Nam. An unrelentingly bad outlook for a mostly clueless college junior turning 21 that summer and thinking a lot about what sort of world he would be graduating into the following year (a much better year!).

Drugs and beer brought no relief that summer of ’68, only heightened paranoia and deeper depression. Books and music saved me. Among these was E.B.White’s “One Man’s Meat.” A celebration of life. Natural peacefulness. Great writing. I’d read Strunk and White (The Elements of Style) in freshman English. “Omit needless words” was a mantra. I pursued clear and concise writing that said something meaningful in an elegant, graceful way.

“One Man’s Meat” became my paragon for prose, and has remained so. I recommend it to anyone, but especially to people who love good writing and need healing. I am very impatient with anyone who would have us go back to a better time in America. Times don’t really change much. But how we see them does, apparently. White was an intelligent observer of some very awful events in the 30s and early 40s, but gave us a clear, untinted lens through which to view world events in any time. Today, it’s hard to find this kind of seer. Read “One Man’s Meat” and then go back to reading the news and today’s observers. Compare and contrast. Repeat as needed.

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