I picked up Harold Bloom last night. He's got quotable quotes that say brilliantly and concisely what I needed to have heard several years ago, but better late than never.
To recap. Several years ago maybe 4 or 5, I decided that I was never going to go watch another movie where the main character had a badass expresssion on his face & holding a gun in the movie poster. And I realized that while my favorite movie was 'Ran', I really hadn't read/watched enough Shakespeare or history. Around about that same time, I realized what a scholar Winston Churchill was. That too was about the time I found Larry Arnn and began looking at Western Civ in a bigger picture context. What I hadn't done is get rid of the political bug and so while I've been getting more serious reading done on that program, I've dragged along many of my political interests as well.
One of the first of many excellent lessons learned was the nature of the Marxist materialist view of the world as well as some echoes of the historicist matter as well. But it was the materialist, ie anti-spiritual, anti-religious aspects that held most of my attention. So I filled out the 'godless commies' thinking in my reperatoir, in defense of Western religious freedom. In parallel with that was the very important understanding that your soul and your character is really none of the government's business and that went categorized under the general buckets of 'new man' and Michelle Obama's 2007 UCLA speech. More recently I have been trying to get a grasp on the weakness of the New Atheism which cosigns a lot of Progressive politics.
But then I found myself watching more gun movies. My venture into sci-fi has kind of unwound because basically it's all about Stross, Stephenson, Banks & Bacigalupi. Meiville not so much and maybe not at all. Dunno. So I've been uneasy for the last few months and really bored with my historical stuff. I mean Koestler's Darkness At Noon was brilliant, and I really enjoyed the massiveness of Robert Conquest's great work. But my Civil War history lost my interest, as did the history of Eisenhower. So once again, I started back towards the Big Books. And that's why I'm reading Pynchon.
But Pops dropped off the massive Yale Shakespeare last weekend, and he's been reading Bloom (at my suggestiong). And I decided to spend my Audible credits on two from Bloom. Boom.
Bloom within an hour reminded me of a number of authors I have rather forgotten. I'd dabbled with them but never gone as far as I might have. Chehkov, Mann, Coleridge, Maupassant. What's wrong with me? But he really zinged me in 'How to Read and Why' with suggestions about the attitude I should take with me towards reading. What surprised me the most was that as I was just now rummaging through an old diary of mine (circa 1990). that used to be my attitude.
The biggest problem I have had in my intellectual career is that reading books has always been for me a zero-sum game with my sociability. I stay at home over the weekend and read 300 pages, that's a whole weekend I make myself happy and one step less engaged with everyone in front of me. What do I do on Saturday night when the rest of the people are drinking beer and watching the game with friends? I'm reading, with no friends and alienating myself from the beer crew. Which is perfectly fine with me: in 1990. Then along comes the internet and I become convinced that I can catch up to the fete manque of where ever Yale humanities dorm bull sessions go after graduation. So I invent all sorts of online personnas (about eight including Cobb, now 20 years gone) for my projects using the internet as social media as I have been since 1993.
Bloom may be curing me of all that. Obama deserves credit as well. I couldn't sustain the fiction that by adding to myself I might be communicating better with whomever out there. It's just me cranking out my writing because I must - for me - for selfish reasons. And now I'm about to be 100% cool with that. And I don't expect to find that place I used to call the 'noble arena' - I discounted it long ago, now I'm about to release it.
Two years ago I went Epicurean. I knew I had to get rid of politics four years ago. Now I think I'm somewhere between Epicurean and Stoic. If I remember correctly, the Epicureans were more public with their findings and the Stoics didn't give a rats if you were 'in' or 'out'. What may ultimately make that determination is how I resolve to deal with Historicism.
Historicists are those people behind every multiculturalism. So the Culture War and those things that drive the agenda of those who must Minister to Peasants, is based on what Bloom considers the uselessness of expecting people who read literature to 'get it' in some way that positively and predictably affects society. Guess what? Society has nothing to do with it. You're either individually fortunate to find the individual whose self-improvement has worked or not. Reading the great works is about self-improvement. Period. It is actually about *be* and not *do*. And I can get into that, because I have discovered what all the Peasants do, and it's merely survival.
Historicists want to craft a framework for the interpretation of history. They're the ones that are compelled to leash the humanities curriculum to *something*. And it has all been identity bullcrap. Formulaic. Unimaginative. And that's what I have been pissed off about. The complete lack of imagination in all of the public discourse I've been part of for so long.
So mark my milestone readers. I am once again off the chain. Unleashed. My mockery factor is going up. Which means I'll probably be able to renew my friendship with Sean Paul, the Agonist. Maybe now I'll understand him better. And maybe I'll be a lot more subversive than ever before. We'll see.