Saturday, May 2, 2009

Waxing Personal

My friend Hans at The Long View, engaged as we are in a discussion about the definition and merits of conservatism, was very kind to ask me about myself:

If you don't mind a personal question, do you have a family (i.e. wife and children)?

No, I certainly don't mind a personal question. Actually, I'm glad you asked. Sometimes waxing personal is the only way to explain oneself.

I do not have a wife or children, nor would I be able to care for any in my current circumstances (hopefully soon I will). I'm 28 years old and I live sparingly, finally trying to finish up a university degree, the first half of which was spread out over 10 years and 3 different institutions.

I realize that many of the opinions I've expressed here these last two years may seem to have little to distinguish them from adolescent anarchism, but there are some reasons for that.

1. No doubt some if it was adolescent anarchism, and even I won't stand by everything I've ever written.

2. Since most of my learning is the product of my own undirected reading, it lacks both the adjustment that would have resulted from application to real-life situations and the refinement born of a scholarly atmosphere. I admit I get very emotional about these things.

3. Finally and most importantly, it would seem that, due to my station in life, much of the debate regarding the finer points of culture, politics, and economics, including much of the discussion occuring here at The Long View, is taking place at a level that is "over my head," so to speak. I mean by this not that it is beyond my comprehension, but that it seldom reaches down to effect me personally. I'm watching a battle between titans, and my opinion is really little more than a bet placed on which titan will win. I may win or lose the bet, but either way I was not really a part of the battle.

This sense of anomie no doubt accounts for much of my cynicism regarding contemporary culture. I don't really belong to it, after all. Nevertheless, my reasons for making my "bets" remain entirely genuine. Sure, there is also the desire to show myself approved, to show how smart I can be, to prove that I have honed my skills as a cultural critic and diagnostician, perhaps even one day ascending to the level of the formidable John Reilly! But there is also the fact that I really do care about the world, and that may yet triumph over all. Even the dogs may eat of the crumbs that fall from the children's table.

This goes to your point about Solzhenitsyn. I am a knight, but a poor one. An unhorsed knight lacking steed or armor, defending with self-deprecation an inner nobility that I cannot outwardly display. Although I may slip into contemporary idioms from time to time, although a wild temptation may occasionally spur me to "take up sides" in some partisan debate (especially when I'm earnestly trying to understand it), my opinions come directly from the heart. I shill for nobody, and I harbor little respect for those who do, even if by coincidence I happen to agree with them.


Hans, speaking of Solzhenitsyn, also had this to say:

That is the position of a true fighter for justice. Unfortunately, conservative politics now seem to be where left politics were in the 70s - people don't care about ethics and truth any more, it's all about spin and positioning.

I will try to correct this for you by doing my best to live and to fight as an honest conservative; more, as an honest Catholic. You are right to demand as much.

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