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Where Have All The Grownups Gone?
Why are they ignoring us?
The waters of the the pools where they abide.
“Once I could meet with them on every side;
But they have dwindled by long and slow decay;
Yet still I persevere, and find them where I may.”
Eric Weinstein is a whiner, but he actually makes the right noises. The problem is that he’s making them on our behalf and we might not merit the effort. I’m talking about that old complaint of the IDW collective which is that our democracy and public life are ill-served by America’s ruling class. Maybe there’s a catch.
A few weeks ago I went to one of the most high-end audio salons in Los Angeles. As my readers know, I’m putting the Porsche on hold and looking closer at an almost equally rewarding and prestigious hobby, that of audiophile. There are a lot of technologies and new brands I don’t know much about, but the one that stood out above them all was Nagra. Take a look at this. It is probably the most gorgeous piece of audio equipment I’ve ever seen. It’s the Nagra IV-S.
They don’t build them any longer, but if you want one you can get a restored model for about $4,500. If you go to the Nagra website, you’ll discover there’s set of products they sell only to law enforcement agencies. It turns out that Nagra is/was at the forefront of miniaturization of recording equipment. Think about that for a moment.
Here’s something else I don’t know much about but have been thinking about more over the past year or so. I don’t know much about any of the agencies who have seized the kboxserv.com website. I don’t even understand exactly what kind of crime was going on, but I have been thinking about what it might have been like to have been an American before WW1. When I put myself in those shoes I imagine that with Great Britain ruling the world there was a certain amount of disdain for American music, literature, cuisine and culture in general. What would it feel like to have high expectations of Europe and low expectations for the domestic versions? Remember what the Clintonistas said of Republicans, their guns and Bibles? What if they were absolutely justified in that? How much poorer did Yanks fare in the eyes of Europeans born in the 18th century? Surely there were Americans then, as now who looked around and saw chaos and disorder and longed for the sanity of refined sensibilities. They probably didn’t ask where all the grownups were, the answer was obvious, in the European capitals.
Somewhere in my library is a book authored by this French dude named Jacques Barzun. It’s entitled From Dawn to Decadence. When I picked it up, I wasn’t inclined to read it right away, and to tell the truth for the past few years when I think about it, I’ve been hiding from it. One of the reasons was I had been working to be a good defender of Western Civilization from the silly Marxists and thralls of Noam Chomsky’s ire. But I’ve also paid a bit more attention to people like Mark Steyn than I should have. Now that I’ve disabused myself of political ambitions and care and now that I'‘d actually much rather read about dead people than the zombie citizens of us WEIRD nations, I’m better suited for such material. One of the things I’m learning now from the continuing numbers stations of coded racial and political messages that drone on indefinitely is that there is a kind of infinite loop of piety and vulgarity. It came to me in something of a rush when I reread something I wrote 24 years ago back when I wrote in lower case:
i joined this group about 3 or so years ago, maybe more, i don't recall.
the tenor of conversation has declined significantly since then. i see it
as reflective of greater tolerance of racial animosity in america. whatever
the reason, the results are clear to me. no longer is scaa the best place
in cyberspace to discuss issues about black culture. not for white folks who
are curious, not for black folks who are networking, not for nobody.
i'm not even sure that lurking here is of great value.
I actually threw them another bone six years later. Did it take me that long to become immune? Maybe.
There are grownups everywhere. They just don’t have time for nonsense. In fact, my nickel says that truly smart and courageous people struggle every day to keep our necks out of the nooses of truly despicable humans. For them, Black Bloc Antifa are bush league children. Here’s where we give the requisite ‘Thank you for your service.’, for that which stands in our civilization despite our ignorance of how all that actually works. What illustrates this better than this picture of the infamous Charlottesville parade of fools?
These grownups. Are we worth their efforts? Yes, of course we are, but not for the sake of our comfort, but just for the very fact of our lives. Millions of us are complaining about our difficulties at the top of Maslow’s pyramid. Our self-actualization seems to be irretrievably meshed with our need to shame people on Facebook and parse hate speech, or whose secret ballot in Georgia didn’t agree with ours. Are our whines really worth it? Maybe not until more than our self-actualization is on the line. It is a great advantage to self-actualize as a Stoic, which doesn’t require the tacit acceptance of a society of mendacity. It’s a great advantage to crawl out of the ghetto slums into the twilight of a declining civilization that doesn’t understand where it is going. But when you know you hold your own life in your hands and you can recall the physical and psychic threats you overcame, you recognize sunlight for what it is.
The guy who ran the high end stereo joint told me that his $100,000 stack of Nagra audio components is so damned accurate that it’s not fun to listen to. The accuracy picks up musicians breathing and resting their fingers on the guitar strings. Too much detail. The grownups hear all too well, and it’s painful to turn your attention to complaints of the bourgeoisie. Be wise. Be a surgeon. Be a judge. Be an international fraud inspector, but don’t weigh into the algorithms on Twitter that stops the n-word. Are you catching my drift? If I were to actually read Jacques Barzun I might stop paying attention to a whole host of contemporary issues. Or better still, because I actually did so, if I read Dickens’ Bleak House, I might prioritize that I must keep my own house in order. Yet I still hear all of the grating noise. I am always tempted to turn off the microphones.
I do struggle with the balance between public engagement and personal edification, and yes I do consider myself a grownup. On the one hand, I can’t blame the grownups for their minimal engagement with our tantrums and fear. On the other hand, I can’t blame Eric Weinstein for whining with Douglas Murray. They are closer to the great institutions of the West and have seen the best of our Genius Class up close and personal. We need to hear their criticism. We all are invested in the meta narrative of the collapse of our order. As much as we are, I still think of how much worse it could be. Toppling of statues is an intellectual and political disaster, but it is not a physical catastrophe with the possible exception for the morons who are crushed by their own idiotic triumph. As wondrous as these statues and institutions are, they are not the bedrock of our infrastructure or our virtues.
I understand what it is like to grow up in a city plagued by the excess of eclecticism, it is like to waste years looking for the perfect night club or hamburger stand. Los Angeles has a surplus of meaningless choice and sampling that feels like freedom. Yet it has a God shaped hole, a flatness, a lack of gravity and centeredness. I know what it feels like to experience the permanent sense of insecurity generated by only knowing the value of working relationships but not the principles at the root of creation. When you are subject to the twisting winds of fashion it’s hard to grow a spine. There is no Carnegie Hall here. There is no singular place to be. It is a boundless sea. Into that boundless sea one must drop anchor and survive the squall, find stars in the heavens and navigate with purpose.