An annotated browser

In ancient times, using a pen name, I wrote a series of short-short stories for use as one-page advertisements, under the heading ‘An annotated browser,’ to promote the shop. These are a few examples. Counterpane          It is...

About Resolution 451

A dialog. “What’s this?” “What?” “This ‘Resolution 451’ business.” “Not a business. Just a revolution. Like a New Year’s revolution.” “You mean resolution.” “Well, yes, but it’s a revolting matter to have to deal with after all the ages..” “How so? What’s the matter?”...

In the last days of the Republic

I first knowingly encountered the Administrative State in 1972 when I went to City Hall in Boston to get a peddler’s license so that I might sell books and magazines on the street. I was under the delusion (illusion is too kind) that the First Amendment to the...

Bronze Age Collapse in the Time of Brady

The spawn of a recent article by Richard Fernandez (https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/surprise-collapse/) is a rather gloomy extended thought on my part. It is my tendency to be gloomy, true, but that aside, I have the habit of seeing analogy in most of what I hear...

About American Philosophy

The occasion of this post is my recent discovery of a wonderful book by John Kaag entitled American Philosophy, a Love Story. Before I get to any criticism of the work, I should commit myself beyond the adjective ‘wonderful,’ and say that I think it is indeed truly...

Observations

Children crave order in their lives. Given the seeming chaos aswirl about them, fixing on the specific edges of a particular blanket or a sequence of events that repeats regularly, like a nap time or snack time, offers them a sense of what and when. There is comfort...

It’s a calendared thing

It is a calendared thing To mark the beginning, And once again to start As if there’s an end to it, And the year is complete And something new commenced; As if you might do over, Or bid farewell and goodbye To what you have done— Little or all that it is; For what you...

The Bookseller’s Dilemma

Booksellers are a lot like actors. It is a cliche that actors will too often assume they are capable of the accomplishments of the characters they portray and come to believe that they know what a character actually felt. Booksellers often see themselves as possessing...

The Arrogance

I suppose it is the arrogance that offends me most. Not the stupidity. An individual can be correct and be arrogant and thus offensive. I am usually willing to forgive stupidity because such foolishness comes to me so easily. But stupidity, at least on a case by case...

Neither frangible nor fungible

That some would have you believe your liberties are fragile and must be protected by government, or that you must trade your liberty in one thing to have it in another, is in the very nature of tyrants, despots, and town clerks. Your freedom is your domain, alone....

A guest at the feast of memory

What we all must learn, I suppose, or else lose ourselves completely, is that very little in the world is really about us. My experience fifty years ago at Mark Hopkins College in Brattleboro Vermont was peripheral to that time and place—not secondary or marginal or...

At the postmodern multi-perplex

More screens but still nothing worth knowing (from the novel in progress A Republic of Books, more of which can be found elsewhere on this ethereal site)   What is to be done? It is the question that comes shortly after you have asked, ‘what part do I play?” And...

Notes in ink on the age of television

The book of my lifetime had only a vague but passing resemblance to those made by the Dutch emigrant to England, Wynken de Worde—like a cousin whose mother might have had extracurricular interests. The paper, the ink, the typography, the binding, and the covers of the...

What’s all this, then?

[A post-preamble to A Republic of Books, portions of which may be found elsewhere on this ethereal site.]   This is my chance, then, to cast myself in the hero’s role. I’ve been a humble author and bookseller for all these years. (Allow me my hyperbole—at least I’m...

notes on the revolution:

an ongoing ramble Oh, the incorporate me.  The ‘corporation’ as it has been recreated in modern business and law represents a large portion of our current problem and a significant cause thereof. Oddly, interestingly, and contrarily, under our code of laws, you may...

Of ‘Children and Fish’

I was just rereading the great Richard Mitchell essay, ‘Children and Fish,’ and thinking it was my favorite of all. It is a difficult choice to make, given my appreciation of the others, but certainly I have read it more often and find myself considering it anew with...

The flea is with us

In the foreword to his excellent and now near classic 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman argues that it was Aldous Huxley and not George Orwell who recognized the greater danger to our modern society. “But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required...

Stewing on the ambiguities

The American dream may not be what it once was, but it is still there. Entering small towns, from California to Maine, you may be struck by how similar they appear, displaying again and again the natural gallimaufry of a single culture that spans a continent. But this...