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The problem is . . .

The problem is that the two major political forces of our age, socialism and capitalism, are rotten to the core. Ostensibly, socialism is the ‘public’ ownership of property and capitalism is the private ownership of property. In practice, neither is true. Capitalism, functionally the private accumulation of wealth for private means and purposes, becomes a tool of government objectives and a beneficiary of government favoritism as it attempts to make the greatest profit through the cheapest measures. Socialism, given that a true democracy will not function if there is an objection by the majority, assumes total power ‘for the people’ in the hands of the fewest politicians, and inevitably becomes a dictatorship not of the proletariat but of the meanest bully.

It may be argued that there are other political forces at large. Religion, for instance. Currently the strong horse in that field is Islam, largely advantaged by the fact that it is both a religion and a philosophy of government. Both socialism and capitalism see this development as an aberration. It will pass, as it has before. But historically, it does persist. The problem with Islam is that it is an automatic dictatorship and thus has an automatic enemy within—anyone in the population who does not agree. The great advantage of Western society is that it has found an alternative in allowing disagreement to fuel change. This will inevitably make Westerns societies stronger even as they might suffer the wounds of revolution.

It is true that, historically speaking, ‘Western’ society started out with it’s own flaws. Slavery, for instance. Sure, Islam has this flaw as well but in that philosophy slavery is made out to be a natural portioning of mankind, as is the subservience of women. In the West, involuntary servitude was always seen as a wrong, a punishment, and the result of a defect to be repaired. Western society too has had its religions. ‘Christianity’ is the broadest umbrella of these. What is ‘Christian’ was a matter of debate from the start, of course, and the cause of much murder. But it is difficult to read the words of Jesus Christ and imagine from them the great harm they were to engender. Yet, one blessing of that turmoil has been a breeding of independent thought. This sense of individual responsibility for ones’s actions dovetailed very well with the Hellenistic rites of independence. And this joinery has much more to do with what is ‘Western’ than any other heritage. As bloody and nasty as the process has been, it has resulted in change, and an appreciable betterment of the human condition. Eastern societies, dominated by philosophies begging for patience and acceptance of fate, have enjoyed much stability by comparison. Such harmoniousness resulted in thousands of years of essentially the same state of human subjugation to authority before the onslaught of Western expansion and now seem, in retrospect, to be some sort of ideal to a few—especially those with Western trust funds.

All of this is shorthand, of course. You can read more about it in Herodotus, Thucydides, Gibbon, Smith, and Tocqueville. History told without the very visible hand of political purpose is difficult to find but it is there. A shadow of the powers that be will always ‘dim the portal of enlightenment,’ but even moonlight is better than darkness. In our own time, with so many purporting to be the bearers of truth, it can only be beneficial to question assertion and assume an agenda wrought by prejudice.

My own prejudices are surely greater than any truth I know. My one virtue, I think, (often seen by others as another fault) is my willingness to question. I am proud of my doubting Thomasness and have always seen myself as the fellow in the Caravaggio painting with his finger poking at the wound. This is perhaps some odd vainglory, and perhaps my bete noire, but it is at least a particular sense and the faith that sustains me. When I have failed it has always been for lack of inquiry.

The problem is, then, that there is so little time to study and so much to do.  My own answer may not satisfy others. It is to do the best I can and go on, with my eye out for a good book along the way.

Otto Biedermeier is dead.

My guess is that most of you did not even know he was sick.

Sadly, the great filmmaker, Otto Biedermeier has died, and it is perhaps parody that killed him.

And it is for that reason alone that his death is the subject of the sudden novel I have just completed. You see, I was happily in the midst of another story when the news reached me. There seemed to be nothing else to do but put other matters aside and pursue the truth of it. He would have done the same for me.

The year 2016 was a tough one. Still, it was better than I deserved. Howbeit, Otto didn’t make it through. I thought the reason might be important to some.

As most years do, 2016 started in the year before, when I first discovered Angel’s Envy. The Bourbon’s are a malicious lot—those that are not delicious. For some, their revenge is best served cold but the best are better than the finest of whiskeys, and Angel’s Envy is to my taste one of those. You can drink it neat as I do, or as sloppily as you like. However you do, it lubricates what is dry.

It is easy for me to believe in a forgiving God, because I have so much to be forgiven for. And because I have discovered Angel’s Envy in a time of need. I’m thinking that was meant to be. But Otto had a pass, his own ‘Letters of Transit,’ as it were, and might have made it out alive. But he chose another course. And the angel’s sang.

Now I’m back to my exposition of The Republic of Books, a rather nice place to be, withal. Too nice, perhaps, and difficult to leave but for the occasional death. Perhaps sufficient bourbon will see me through this next annum and to that nettled tale complete at last.

In the mean time—that being evenings when the mental juice has died up and all that is left is the sheen on the glass of my ounce or two—I continue to try my limited patience in the court of last appeal, the getting of The Knight’s Tale published through Createspace, as I did more than a year ago with The Dark Heart of Night. This is a task seemingly well beyond my grasp so I will need to reach exceedingly. And once I have that done, perhaps the other tales that live now in the dropbox of dreams past will be easier to do as well, or even better, if I might. Though I would like to hear the angels sing, they have little to envy here just yet. Here there is just the work.

With Otto Biedermeier gone, there is no excuse now not to get this done. Unless I look for one.

An open letter to those who might be wondering.

The move from Abington, Massachusetts to Lee, New Hampshire has been better than feared, but perhaps ultimately worse for the simple demonstration of fact that I haven’t the energy, muscle mass, or psychological stamina I once had. There has been an attrition, beginning with moving the old store and that massive accumulation of 30 years from 339 Newbury Street, back in 2003, and then the fire in the business below us at 353 Newbury that ruined the hopes of our new location shortly after, the subsequent move of what was salvaged to warehousing and our apartment in Brookline, and then the later move to Abington in 2006, all of which took more out of me than I wanted to admit. Confessing it here is not by way of an excuse, but a recognition of facts as they are. I am still learning to deal with it. Perhaps too slowly. read more…

Trifles taken from the alms-basket of words

(Oh yes, oh yes. Yet another potable portion from a chapter, this one newly posted with A Republic of Books, the novel in progress to be found elsewhere on this site.)

 

By the bye, the category I have chosen for my work is ‘honorificabilitudinitatibus,’ as it is found in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, if for no other reason that it allows me the citation as well as the use of three possessives in one sentence: “O, they have lived long on the alms-basket of words. I marvel thy master hath not eaten thee for a word; for thou art not so long by the head as honorificabilitudinitatibus: thou art easier swallowed than a flap-dragon. [Costard, act 5, scene 1]. This was, according to the first edition published at London by Cutbert Burby in the year 1598, “A Pleasant Conceited Comedie called, Loves Labors Lost,” and presented before her Highness Elisabeth the First the previous Christmas.

By God, flap-dragons! read more…

Consider Cleisthenes

(Oh yes, oh yes. Another potable portion from a chapter, this one newly posted with A Republic of Books, the novel in progress to be found elsewhere on this site.)

 

Consider Cleisthenes, the father of Athenian democracy and thus a father to us all, dead and white though he is and was. That was in 507 BC, you understand. A while back. Over two thousand and five hundred years ago. A mere 84 generations. I emphasize this for those maven who want to think of their world as it is today as the only way it has ever been.

It was Harmodius and Aristogeiton who made the revolution possible by killing the Peisistratid tyrant Hipparchus, and they had died for their effort. But it was Cleisthenes who, recalled from exile and given the tyrant’s power in turn, fulfilled what promise there was in this dictatorship to first establish a democracy in the Athenian state. He must have been something of a tyrant himself for a time, for he set about his task by deposing those four clans who had ruled Athens by family partisanship since pre-history and established rule instead through individual citizenship in the 139 ‘demes,’ the geographic areas that were much like counties dividing ancient Attica. Instead of the age-old patronage, government positions under Cleisthenes were filled by a more random ‘sortition.’ The city council, the Boule, was increased in size, as were the courts of law, known as Dikasteria, and both were required to have representation from each tribe. Just a matter of history, you see. Of no other importance than that it was to change everything that followed, and all the rest of history that we now know. read more…

All slaves are equal but some get to live in the big house.

(Oh yes, oh yes. A new potable portion from a chapter, this one newly posted with A Republic of Books, the novel in progress to be found elsewhere on this site.)

 

A novel is a flimsy currach indeed in which to set out on a journey such as this. The urgency to remain afloat supersedes all else. But a reasonable destination must be chosen and achieved, while most heavy baggage must be left ashore. The number of passengers is necessarily limited, and movement is restricted. Nevertheless, we sally forth, if a barging can be called a sally.

Revolutions are not made. They are stumbled upon. Many are attempted. Few avoid the gibbet. One moment the malcontents were arguing among themselves about what sort of association might be allowed with their King, and in the next a courier with news of shots fired at Lexington and Concord arrives. Thence, the ne’er-do-well editor of the Pennsylvania Magazine, previously peace loving, has “rejected the hardened, sullen-tempered Pharaoh of England forever.” The point is, no matter all the talk, not one of those true geniuses that fashioned the old Republic had imagined a United States of America before April 1775. read more…

Latest Blog Posts

The problem is . . .

The problem is that the two major political forces of our age, socialism and capitalism, are rotten to the core. Ostensibly, socialism is the ‘public’ ownership of property and capitalism is the private ownership of property. In practice, neither is true. Capitalism,...

Otto Biedermeier is dead.

My guess is that most of you did not even know he was sick. Sadly, the great filmmaker, Otto Biedermeier has died, and it is perhaps parody that killed him. And it is for that reason alone that his death is the subject of the sudden novel I have just completed. You...

An open letter to those who might be wondering.

The move from Abington, Massachusetts to Lee, New Hampshire has been better than feared, but perhaps ultimately worse for the simple demonstration of fact that I haven’t the energy, muscle mass, or psychological stamina I once had. There has been an attrition,...

Trifles taken from the alms-basket of words

(Oh yes, oh yes. Yet another potable portion from a chapter, this one newly posted with A Republic of Books, the novel in progress to be found elsewhere on this site.)   By the bye, the category I have chosen for my work is ‘honorificabilitudinitatibus,’ as it is...

Consider Cleisthenes

(Oh yes, oh yes. Another potable portion from a chapter, this one newly posted with A Republic of Books, the novel in progress to be found elsewhere on this site.)   Consider Cleisthenes, the father of Athenian democracy and thus a father to us all, dead and...

All slaves are equal but some get to live in the big house.

(Oh yes, oh yes. A new potable portion from a chapter, this one newly posted with A Republic of Books, the novel in progress to be found elsewhere on this site.)   A novel is a flimsy currach indeed in which to set out on a journey such as this. The urgency to...

Unto an age of Romanticism, or On the Beach

(Perchance, a new potable portion from a chapter, this one newly posted with A Republic of Books, the novel in progress to be found elsewhere on this site.)   “You’ve never been in love with anyone else?” “Not that I knew. I’ve often had crushes on women from...

Beyond the age of reason

(Yet another potable portion from a chapter, this one newly posted with A Republic of Books, the novel in progress to be found elsewhere on this site.) Has our Thirty Years’ War only just begun, or has it ended long since and the news simply not yet arrived via a slow...

In ancient mundane

(A new chapter two has been added (interpolated?) to my 'book in progress,' The Republic of Books, to be found elsewhere on this site. In ancient mundane, the beer was swell, the work was sweaty, and the women very very pretty. Here be a potable portion of that, you...

Mistakes have been made

(Yet another potable portion from a chapter, this one newly posted with A Republic of Books, the novel in progress to be found elsewhere on this site.) This then was the economic pressure that weighed on my conscience as I debated what should be done to maintain my...

Novels & Novellas Available for Purchase

I Am William McGuire

I Am William McGuire

It’s a bloody Cro-Magnon world.
What’s a Neanderthal to do?

 

A Slepyng Hound to Wake

A Slepyng Hound to Wake

Leaving well enough alone is not good enough at all—not if the reason for a death is to be found in the life that was lost.
Hound

Hound

Henry Sullivan has made a simpler life for himself, finding and selling books. There is little room in it for either love or murder.

 

About

I have been informed by trusted authority that the short quip which I have placed here for the last year or so, by way of biography, lacks gravitas. “Over-paid by others for hyphenated jobs such as lawn-work, snow-shoveling, house-painting, office-boy, dish-washer, warehouse-grunt, table-waiter and hotel night-clerk–I’ve since chosen to be a writer, editor, publisher, and for most of my life, a bookseller, and even managed to occasionally pay myself. Hound is my first published novel.” And so it does. It is hard to be serious about so unserious a subject as oneself. But herewith, and keeping the ‘nasty bits’ (Brit expressions are so brilliant) to myself, I offer then, this ongoing post begun as posts at Small Beer Press. If anyone is interested, from time to time I will add something at the end to bring the epic closer to the present moment.

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