Friday, September 29, 2017

Obiter Dicta, no. 16

I am not suggesting that one can discharge all one's obligations towards society by means of a private re-afforestation scheme. Still, it might not be a bad idea, every time you commit an antisocial act, to make a note of it in your diary, and then, at the appropriate season, push an acorn into the ground.

— George Orwell, "A Good Word for the Vicar of Bray"

We planted a new dwarf pear tree earlier this week. But yesterday, dealing with suburban D.C. traffic, I called down curses, maledictions and unholy vilifications upon at least several dozen drivers directly, and I may have fantasized about murder, both retail and wholesale. I suppose this puts my tree-per-sin account deeply into the red. Luckily, autumn weather is here, and the acorns are falling like wooden raindrops, or else I'd go broke trying to balance the books. Well, I've always wanted to live in a forest. Just call me Outis Oaktree, distant cousin to Johnny Appleseed. Speaking of whom, I wonder what he was atoning for?

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Noteworthies (20)

• John Byron Kuhner, "Recovering Thoreau"

• Cathy Young, "The Injustice of the ‘Rape-Culture’ Theory"

• Interview with James L. Nolan, Jr., "On the Therapeutic State"

• Sohrab Ahmari, "The Terrible American Turn Toward Illiberalism"

• Interview with Dennis Rasmussen, "The Infidel and the Professor"

• The New Criterion, "Inebriates of Virtue"

• Andrei Znamenski, "A Left Master's Dangerous Heresy"

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Obiter Dicta, no. 15

It is in vain to write on chosen themes. We must wait till they have kindled a flame in our minds. There must be the copulating and generating force of love behind every effort destined to be successful. The cold resolve gives birth to, begets, nothing. The theme that seeks me, not I it. The poet's relation to his theme is the relation of lovers. It is no more to be courted. Obey, report.

— Thoreau, The Journal, 1837-1861

Sometimes thoughts produce written offspring like rabbits. Other times, it's more like trying to encourage captive pandas to mate. Pent-up frustration occasionally compels me to walk the digital streets and alleyways of the web with a cold resolve to find and arrange a tryst, or even a marriage of convenience, if need be, with some theme willing to satisfy my satyrical writer's urges, but it's no use fooling myself. I'm too old-fashioned for that. What I want and need is passionate romance, intoxicating inspiration. Without it, the act of scribbling for its own sake is merely masturbatory.