In the 1840s, in one of his lectures on “Heroes”, Thomas Carlyle, the Scottish philosopher, used the term “skeptical dilettantism” to describe how that army of ne’er-do-well, half-baked intellectuals will collectively move to destroy anyone of genius who enters their “territory”, and, being shallow dilettantes in the first place, will pick at the the most trivial of blemishes to demean him. In his “The Hero as Poet” lecture, Carlyle was speaking of Dante, who consensus seems to acknowledge as having written, with his “Divine Comedy”, the single greatest piece of literature in the Italian language. And, including all the other languages, even religious categories, that work ranks in the top Five.
With that understanding “skeptical dilletantes”, throughout literature, modern film, and even analysis of history, have served as foils used by writers to highlight the achievements of a story’s hero. Ayn Rand described Howard Roark’s persecutions as a genius architect in just such a way in her “The Fountainhead”, posted here earlier.
Enter Donald Trump, stage right, who has proceeded to take a beating in the Press, but also in the salons of the splendid, but not for his content but for his crudeness of style, as if style outranked substance.
Some think maybe even William F Buckley, Jr, were he alive, would join in, since so many of his surviving elflings have made Trump’s uncouth bluster their number one complaint about the man, even to the point of indicating they’d rather vote for Joe Biden instead…which actually goes to far weightier issues of philosophy, well beyond a distaste for orange hair.
But Bill Buckley? I doubt it. I saw him on live-TV threaten to knock Gore Vidal’s “goddamn block off” for calling him a “Nazi”. What,1964?…when he was scarcely 40! Then, that was a stand-up-and-cheer moment in a still rising “conservative” America, and I suspect that Ronald Reagan was among them, for two years later he became governor of California, one of conservatism’s earliest takig of territory. Later Buckley went on to publish a book of complaint letters to “National Review” entitled “Cancel your Own Goddam Subscription” at 82, (which he signed for each of my sons). And as I recall, in the early days of Rush Limbaugh’s talk-radio show, where he’d already earned a national reputation as a braggadocious blowhard, Buckley invited him to dinner, and thought highly of Rush, and what he meant to a much-needed rejuvenation (and popularization) of conservatism in the 1990s, among that part of the population most intellectuals of any political stripe, apparently wouldn’t dirty their hands with. And still don’t want to.
Which brings us to Donald Trump, who WFB knew socially, and could easily cut through the facade of bluster to see the true depth of Donald Trump.
So, just where is this dislike for uncouth bluntness found in the soul of a conservatism today, at least among its professing intellectuals? In other words, how deeply do they really feel about body language, standing alone, as the true measure of a man?
Speaking of John Robert’s (of Fox News) recent outburst, I penned an epigram, “When one exposes his self-righteous with a short temper, the wise man will first judge his righteousness, not his bad manners.”
To my mind, Brit Hume at Fox, more than either Roberts or Chris Wallace, represents the true nature of the internal struggle between style and substance, for Brit is intellectually honest in ways that few of his colleagues in media are today, including many of the elflings who wrote for Buckley at “National Review” before he passed. In short, it is largely generation, this shallow dilettantism, which is why I first endeavored to “save” Ben Shapiro in 2016. (With or without my help, he seems to be turning out nicely.)
Brit is probably struggling inside, which is a good thing, for he knows what that internal conflict is all about. He was let go at ABC after 23 years because he kept asking questions that even the slick Willie Clinton couldn’t answer or allow himself to be trapped. My age, I don’t think Britt’s changed since then. I don’t think you’ll ever see him on Independence Avenue carrying the flag and marching to “Stars and Stripes Forever”, but then again, you won’t see me, either. I hate crowds, which is why I prefer the stealth side of the darkness.
Still, I love to see those parades, for in my lifetime I don’t ever think I’ve ever seen a patriotic awakening in this country as we’re seeing right now. Maybe back in ’40-to-’42, when we all knew war was coming, or had just come. It’s quite a spectacle. Pass onto to your grandkids.
One final note, about the title. I have a friend who I’ve actually met, who, even more than Donald Rumsfeld, does not suffer fools lightly. And unlike Donald Trump, who is actually good-natured and polite to most of his critics, she is even more apt to call “a spade a fooking shovel” than any Irish workman, once triggered. It’s gotten her into trouble more than once. But her love of America outshines any others that I have seen. It’s as deep at the sea. And in a firefight you’d want her on your shoulder, knowing she’d die defending your shoulder just as you would hers….even though the fight might have never started had it not been for a very righteous “Screw you!” (or reasonable facsimile thereof) as she jumped down the throat of some loud-mouthed bastard when she could have, just as easily walked away.
That just sometimes happens when “When one with a short temper exposes his/her righteousness and that righteousness is deep and pure.” Bad manners are an afterthought.
We are near that point now, Brit, when you may hear some of the crudest battle cries ever heard on American soil since Kings Mountain. Just consider the righteousness of the cause, for when it’s over, we will know when to hang up our guns.
IN OTHER NEWS: COVID-19 DEATHS IN THE UNITED STATES
…… over the past 30 days have totaled 16,800, or 542 per day, which is down from the 910/day death rate reported for the previous 30-day’s count, a drop of 40%.
Meanwhile, the bad news, (or good news, you decide) is that America’s “case count” continues to march upwards, as reported gleefully d by the American Press, and responded to expectedly by many governors and mayors, like dogs to a whistle, seeking to use rising Covid-cases as a justification not to allow citizens to stand in line waiting to vote in person.