R & R

Nobody in his or her right mind would follow my lead in recreational pursuits, but for the voyeuristic among you here's what I'm devoting my downtime this weekend to…

Reading:

Look Homeward, America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front-Porch Anarchists. The latest from Bill Kauffman. We've lined up a very apt reviewer for TAC, and I'll be taking part in another project involving the book in a few weeks. But right now I'm reading Kauffman's tributes to Dorothy Day, Gene McCarthy, and other decentralist heroes just for the pleasure of it. (An excerpt from the book runs in the new TAC, by the way, which should find its way to bookstores and subscribers' mailboxes in a week or so.)

Reading Leo Strauss: Politics, Philosophy, Judaism. A short new collection of essays from the University of Chicago by a Straussian writing about Strauss. In light of recent controversies, perhaps I ought to review it.

Listening:

"Rise & Shine" and "Sick & Tired," by the Cardigans, a band I'd have dismissed for their irritatingly catchy one hit from a decade ago except, that I'd recently heard their later single "Erase/Rewind" and quite liked it. Better yet are the two tracks I bought from iTunes yesterday from their first album, Emmerdale. I should have checked out a few selections from the band's back catalog earlier, since I've always liked their producer Tore Johansson's work on St. Etienne's Good Humor. "Rise & Shine" and "Sick & Tired" are prime jangle-pop specimens — the latter somewhat the better for having stronger lyrics and an undercurrent of melancholy.

Watching:

I've never seen "Easy Rider," but I think I'll have to now that I've read what Bill Kauffman has to say about it —

… the best radicals are reactionaries at heart. They despise the official order, be it state capitalism, militarism, communism, or what have you, but wish not merely to remove the malignancy but to replace it with an organic system, rooted in human nature and human affection…. They are not mere rebels without a cause. Instead, they value the importance of "doin' your own thing in your own time," as those two deeply American filimmakers Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda (our Kansas-Nebraska Act-ors) said in their druggy paean to the pioneer virtues, Easy Rider.

I don't really have to convince you that Easy Rider is a reactionary picture, do I? The only characters depicted as unqualifiably virtuous are the homesteading faimly, living on their own acreage…. The hippies and the small-town southerners gathered in the diner; the small farmers and shaggy communards: they were on the same side. The side of liberty, of locally based community, of independence from from the war machine, the welfare state, the breaucratic prison whose wardens were McNamara, Rockefeller, Bundy… 

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2 thoughts on “R & R

  1. clark April 29, 2006 / 9:52 pm

    I am with you on the Kauffman book, but am passing on the Leo Strauss.

  2. Daniel McCarthy April 30, 2006 / 11:24 pm

    You're not missing out on too much, though it's not every book that includes a chapter entitled "What Would Leo Strauss Do?"

    (By the way, the ISI-hosted Bill Kauffman blog that Clark refers to in this post is what I was crypitically alluding to when I said that there was another project involving Look Homeward, America that I would be taking part in. It'll be launching in a couple of weeks.)

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