Monday, November 16, 2009

Mid-November 2009 Links and Quotes

I find myself agreeing and disagreeing with some choices in the linked list.  My over-rated choice would be Citizen Kane.  Watching it can be like having to eat the whale oil or whatever that nutritional supplement was the Children used to have to eat.  My under-rated choice would be Saturday Night Fever  -- that movie is constantly spoofed but it was a serious movie with strong characters.
I respect and admire Canada. Although we have chosen certain diverging paths since the days of the Revolution, we have been, and always will be, the best of friends despite our differences. Canada is unquestionably as decent, modest and good a society as exists on Earth today. And yet while Canadians frequently point out that they are free of our vices, I perceive that they are free of our greatness as well. You can't have it both ways.

Canada is free of many of the foreign policy disasters and failures of vision that the United States has been correctly charged with, but they are free too of the satisfaction and pride of being history's singular bulwark of freedom and prosperity, and the eternal, unintimidated scourge of tyrants and murderers from the Barbary pirates, through the armed might of the 20th Century's parade of totalitarians and right up to Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden and the criminal lunatics that run North Korea.

Milton Friedman
"The Great Depression, like most other periods of severe unemployment,
was produced by government mismanagement rather than by any inherent
instability of the private economy."

 Churchill said

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism."
I can remember when the wall fell, that many, out of hate, did not want to give Ronald Reagan his due.  They instead wanted to laud Mikhail Gorbachev, a hier to Stalin, anyone but that Yankee Cowboy President.  Well, asGeorge Jones so eloquently observed:
The Berlin Wall fell 20 years ago. This week the last of the Soviet emperors, Mikhail Gorbachev, 78, commemorated the event in the London Guardian. Considering that it used to be his wall, it was a somewhat ironic exercise. Mr. Gorbachev got around the dilemma by referring to the Berlin Wall as "one of the shameful symbols of the Cold War" -- which is rather like referring to the gate at Auschwitz as one of the shameful symbols of World War II.
"[Gorbachev] just wanted to open the window a crack... But the wind has yanked it out of his hand, broke the glass, and now there's a hurricane raging inside."

Men open windows. Hurricanes come from elsewhere.

From my copy of "Verses from Tang Poetry"

Laughing to the sky, I go out the door,

I'm not an ordinary man at all.

Cut running water with a sword,

The water will faster flow;

Drown your sorrow by drinking,

The sorrow will heavier flow.

There is a political aspect to talking about this long-time-ago event.
 I'm going to give you a quote from a different writer, something of a favorite of mine, though not much known in the West. This is the Chinese writer Lu Xun, who flourished in the 1920s and 1930s. He died in 1936. Like you and me, gentle listener, Lu had the misfortune to find himself living amid the collapsing wreckage of a corrupt, dying civilization, where politically well-connected playahs amassed stupendous wealth while the common people sank into poverty and impotence. Sometimes called the Chinese Orwell, Lu was honest and clear-eyed, and kept despair at bay only with difficulty. He marveled at the way people were able to ignore the stink of rottenness all around them, and persist in dreams and illusions that contradicted every reality of their lives. Well, here he is in 1922, trying to explain why he took up writing. It's a longish quote.
Imagine an iron house without windows, absolutely indestructible, with many people fast asleep inside who will soon die of suffocation. But you know since they will die in their sleep, they will not feel the pain of death. Now if you cry aloud to waken a few of the lighter sleepers, making those unfortunate few suffer the agony of irrevocable death, do you think you are doing them a good turn? But if a few awake, you can't say there is no hope of destroying the iron house.

End quote. So perhaps there's some reason, at least, to go on writing and talking. And then if, as I believe, we are going into a great darkness, we can still, at least, sing as we go. In the days of public executions in England, the condemned man on the scaffold was greatly admired if he could sing a popular song, or make a comic speech, while the hangman was testing his knot. It was the same in China, according to Lu Xun. The hero of one of his stories is vexed because, about to be executed, he can't remember the words of the operatic aria he wanted to sing.

(*This is from the transcript of the latest episode of Radio Derb.  You can get the podcast for John Derbyshire's show on i-tunes.*)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is "Bill Whittle" a columnist from The Onion?