September 1, 2007

The New Essayists: A Selection

ESSAY_TEST_COVER2_400PX2.jpgEssay. From the French essayer, 'to try' or 'to attempt'. I love them more than any other literary form because they are "So various, so beautiful, so new." And, like the poem from which that line is drawn, often contain the opposite of what one thought one should think. In a way this is in the essay's DNA spiraling down from Montaigne. Montaigne's method was to ask, "What do I know?" -- with the emphasis on "I." In many, many words over the course of long years he struggled to answer the essayist's eternal question: How do I know what I think until I see what I say?

In deriving that answer, Montaigne is still the standard and his work has proved impossible to surpass on an extended basis. To hold a record for more than 400 years is, you will have to agree, a singular achievement.

Ah well, "let be be the finale of seem." In our chancred age, we deal in echos, shadows, coarse emulation, and flee from a "professional" literary scene,

where the dead walk
and the living are made of cardboard.

Still, it is a continuing pleasure to me to wake up each day and see that, among my favorite new essayists to be found on the web, there is more to read than I can manage. Perhaps I should cut back on my list of writers that I read regularly as essayists. Humm, on second thought, I'll just cut back on the news of Princess Di. Whole oceans of time would spread out before me, "So various, so beautiful, so new.".

Here's a few snippets of current essayists from my not-so-short list of people worthy of your extended attention,

Gagdad Bob @ One Cosmos says "Let's Play Who's the Victim?!

One of the appeals of leftism is that you can never be called a hypocrite. That is, if you have no standards, then there is no standard by which to judge you.

Anthony Daniels @ The New Criterion -- Another side of Paradise takes an apostate's look at the work of Jack Kerouac:

I have seen some of the most mediocre minds of my generation destroyed by too great an interest in the Beats.

Sippican Cottage gives you twenty reason the world is better than it was 25 years ago.

20.This box makes me smarter than I am.That's not that difficult, but the computer and the internet is the greatest cheat sheet in the history of mankind.

Nicholas von Hoffman @ The American Conservative on "What Hillary Hides"

Democratic politicians are prone to go overboard at proving how tough they are. Hillary, in addition to bearing that fardel, may believe that the supposed weakness of her gender demands that she put on a horned helmet, grab a spear, and do a Valkyrie number for the war jingos.

Wretchard @ The Belmont Club: The power dance craze

Watching recent events in partisan politics seems a little like watching the Limbo Rock. How low can you go? Pretty low. On the Republican side you have the Larry Craig incident, where a GOP Senator from Idaho is arrested while playing footsie with an undercover cop in a toilet stall at a Minneapolis airport.... Tough to beat that, huh? Apparently going lower is no problem in Washington. The counterpart horror show on the Democratic side of the aisle is the Norman Hsu affair.

Robert Kaplan @ The Atlantic Online Rereading Vietnam

His eardrums ruptured, his face crusted with blood from beatings, one arm broken and both knees badly injured from the ejection, Bud Day was hung by the feet "like a side of butchered beef for many hours" by his captors after he refused to answer their questions. A week into his captivity he escaped. He then hiked 12 days alone in the jungle back to South Vietnam, eating frogs, nauseous from pain, only to be recaptured.

With all of his limbs now broken or shot up, he spent the next six years in captivity, undergoing mock executions, hung again repeatedly by his feet, often not permitted to urinate, beaten senseless in scenes "out of the Mongol Hordes" with whips that made his testicles like charred meat. When prison guards burst in on him and other POWs during a clandestine Christian service, Day stared into their muzzles and sang "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Mencius Moldbug @ Unqualified Reservations: The state is not a stable eleemosynary institution

Let's face it: that last season of the Sopranos sucked. Actually, the last two seasons sucked. Actually, make it the last three. However, when Christopher explained to his AA sponsor that his higher power was his Mafia oath, it made up for a substantial fraction of the suckiness.

Thomas Lifson @ American Thinker: The Racial Engineering of San Francisco

One of the ugliest aspects of contemporary "progressive" thought is a thoroughly patronizing attitude toward African-Americans, regarding them as eternal victims unable to fend for themselves. The latest insult comes from America's most stridently left wing big city government, San Francisco, where municipal officials are fretting over recent declines in the number of blacks living within the city limits.

Posted by Vanderleun at September 1, 2007 10:12 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Suggest adding Fran Porretto at Eternity Road to the honor roll.

Posted by: Connecticut Yankee at September 2, 2007 7:57 PM

Of course. But Porretto is worth an entire review all by himself.

Posted by: vanderleun at September 2, 2007 10:29 PM