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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. read more…

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. read more…

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

[a bagatelle from A Republic of Books, a ‘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 than 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 for the previous Christmas.

By God, flap-dragons! read more…

Consider Cleisthenes

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

And while we are at it, consider Cleisthenes, the father of Athenian democracy and thus a father to us all, dead and white though he was. His moment was in 507 BC, you understand. Just a while back. About 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, though they were both then put to death for their trouble. But it was Cleisthenes who, recalled from exile and given the tyrant’s power in turn, fulfilled what promise there was in this dictatorship by first establishing a democracy in the Athenian state. Not for any ideal, you understand. For practical reasons. The ancient system they had was failing. For inspiration, he could have looked to the everyday practices of the landowning hoplite farmers who organized themselves willingly into a citizens army in time of war. But for a time he must have been something of a tyrant himself, 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,’ those geographic areas that were much like counties dividing ancient Attica. Instead of the age-old patronage, the new 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 first required to have representation from each and every 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, another new and potable portion from a chapter, this one  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 may be called a sally.

Revolutions are not made. They are stumbled upon. Many are attempted. But few revolutionaries 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

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That I have nothing to say

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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.

read more...