When I began this blog back in the summer of 2006, over a thousand posts ago, I introduced my general ambition for this blog, and based my philosophy on hope for the West (indeed, my masthead all along has contained that sentiment). Thus, in that very first post all those years ago, The reverberations in the name, I wrote:
“The name of this blog implies a few associations: the first that comes to mind, of course, is the desperado—the gunslinger whose Spanish sobriquet meant literally “a guy who’s lost hope”. The hesperado, by contrast, and by its assonancy with esperance (hope), would be a guy who has hope.”
Well, given my recent heartbreak, I guess I should change the name of my blog, to The Desperado. Or else discontinue it altogether. I'll have to think about what it means to continue, not only with the blog, but with my other life, Art (I'm a fiction writer and musician). What meaning does Art have, when it no longer has a civilizational cosmion (at least one that's not stupidly doomed, as ours is) in which to exercise the tension between Art and Reality? But that may be the subject of a future essay.
In all the time I've written my essays here (not to mention the voluminous discussions and debates I've had elsewhere on Internet forums and chat rooms over the years, and with friends and a close relative in that charmingly named real life), only once did I express such deep misgivings. It was three years ago, in the wake of the Boston Marathon attack, in an essay titled Islamonnui.
Its resonance with how I feel these days deserves an extended quote:
“The definition for the French word ennui includes: “annoyance, trouble, boredom, tedium, depression, gloom.” Hence my contribution: Islamonnui.
“That's how I feel after Boston. It frankly has less to do with Islam than it does with my society's persisting myopia to the danger of Islam. A careful reading of Jihad Watch reports and Debbie Schlussel's blog this past week documenting the response in the mainstream news media, in politics, among intelligence and police spokesmen, and among other cultural pundits and analysts throughout the West reveals -- once again, for the umpteenth time -- a Body Politic whose mind suffers from a mass neurosis taking on the dimensions, and effects, of a mass psychosis. Once I was angry, even infuriated by this. Now I'm exhausted with ennui.
“I cannot calculate how far I am, in spirit, from the solemnly appalled feeling that the West -- this kind of West that madly avoids the Camel in the Room even while that beast of the desert is waging violent war against us -- no longer deserves to be defended; that in fact it deserves to be destroyed, and let the Mohammedans have us. But now after Boston, viscerally sickened past Islamonausea into an advanced state of Islamonnui, I can sense the distance there closing.”
And that was in 2013. The situation -- the problem, and the general denial about the problem -- has only gotten worse -- ludicrously worse, to the point of fucking surreal -- in the meantime.
As I wrote in a comment to a reader fairly recently (post-Paris), alluding to that 2013 essay:
I often forget how fed up I've already been in the past; when I revisit some of my writings from long ago, I really wonder how I've kept going at all.
Only a few days ago, I noted, with ironically flat affect in my recent essay -- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum -- that I lost my hope and faith in the West. For all that, I didn't lose the third of the three theological virtues: love. I still love the West, with all her warts and bumps; she's still the fairest of them all.
Too fair for her own good, apparently... But hey, as Joe E. Brown said to the dolled-up, unwigged yet still lipstuck Jack Lemmon at the end of Some Like It Hot -- “Nobody's perfect!”
Kind of the mirror image of the ending of another movie, The Candidate (1972), in which, after the purposefully phony candidate played by Robert Redford, pushing unabashed candor beyond what any other politician had ever done, and therefore of course expecting to lose, actually wins the election -- and in the hotel room he and his trusted aide have escaped to in the rush of his victory -- he turns to Peter Boyle and says, "Now what...!?"
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At any rate, it was fun while it lasted. I raise a glass to my dear old West. Here's looking at you, kid.