Thursday, October 18, 2007

Prelude to B.W.'s Book Report: Out of Step

Ray Bradbury wrote a wonderful metaphor in my favorite of his books, Zen in The Art of Writing (Only he called it a simile. Maybe he's right. Whatever): "Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces together."

Having now completed Out of Step by Frank Chodorov, I feel as if my brain has exploded and I may well spend the rest of my life putting the pieces together. Either that or I'm adjusting to having the pieces finally assembled in their proper order. All I know is my image of the world is different from what it was when I started reading. Or perhaps the image is the same, only in sharper focus.

Two thoughts occurred to me at random as I was racing through the final pages, trying not to race but racing nonetheless. I will have to keep this book close at hand for a while, rereading and assimilating the thoughts.

First thought: One of the defining political speeches of my generation features the applause line, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." Both questions are meaningless and irrelevant. They depend upon the assumption that humanity is a collective, a hive, rather than an interaction of individuals, and that members have a responsibility to the hive and vice versa. There is a third question that sounds selfish but is closer to the core of existence: Ask what you can do for you.

Second thought: The Star Trek trilogy – The Wrath of Khan, The Search for Spock and The Voyage Home – is in one small way an important contribution to the cause of individualism. The first story features a heroic sacrifice by a man who believes "the good of the many outweighs the good of the few, or the one," but after the character undergoes a literal resurrection, the viewer is asked to consider whether sometimes it is logical that "the good of the one" should take precedence. That this shift is portrayed positively is a sign that individualism is not a lost philosophy.

Third thought: I have not wrapped my mind around these two thoughts well enough that I feel confident they made any sense to you at all, dear reader. I beg your indulgence while I run my fingers over the keyboard in coming days trying to clean up the landmine that is me.

Oh, and if you have never read Chodorov or Out of Step, get busy on obtaining a copy. Buy here. Download the .pdf here. And click here to keep up with someone whose brain exploded long before mine.

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Anonymous sunni said...

Okay, now I have to read this book! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and I look forward to reading more once you're ready to put electrons to ... er, whatever.

And ... your link to the PDF version is malformed, so it comes up 404.

9:44 AM  
Blogger B.W. Richardson said...

Oopsy daisy! Try it now - I had some extra junk in the link. Sorry about that!

7:13 PM  
Blogger jomama said...

Am reading it now.

Thanks. A classic.

11:33 AM  

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