Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Welcome to This Blog

I will try to keep the personal introduction to this first posting of my blog short, but I think it is unavoidable to say something, and to say too little might be a form of inverted self-absorption.

My name is Bruce Cole (and I am not the former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities). I am married, the father of three daughters, a Catholic, a nominal Democrat, and currently living in Nevada. I have written for several publications, though the bulk of my working life has certainly been spent in non-literary venues. I received my hard-won and undistinguished Bachelor's degree in History from the University of Oregon a long time ago, where I had the immense good fortune to be taught by the late, and undeservedly ignored, Thomas Payne Govan, who turned my interests toward the history of the Early American Republic.

I have entitled this blog Every Full Moon as a way of indicating that, at least at first, I will be posting once a month (whether or not that coincides with the arrival of full moons). The next posting will be my review of Last Rites by John Lukacs, to be followed (a month after?) by a review of Leslie Mitchell's biography of Maurice Bowra. (I have no apologies to make for these reviews being "late," as that is, I should hope, the prerogative of a rookie blogger.) I will also be making some occasional forays into commentary. I have set matters up so that folks are free to comment, thought I do not plan on publishing the comments as I do not have the time nor interest nor patience to referee debates among readers (assuming there are any). On the other hand, comments are very welcome, as they may stimulate further topics and their treatment. At some point soon, I will "monetize" the site with ads, and add a PayPal feature for those in a generous mood.

Finally, some attempt to state here something of my "position," with the sinking realization that a laundry list of interests, influences, etc. will A) only tell readers so much, B) risk sounding pompous, and C) be suffocating to write, at least for me. Nevertheless: I am in the Hamilton-Washington-Marshall-Lincoln (as opposed to the Jeffersonian-Madisonian-Jacksonian) tradition. My deepest interests are historical (and one of the reasons for the first review is to indicate the debt I owe to the historical philosophy of John Lukacs.) I have long been fascinated by the often hidden commonalities which are shared by "opposing viewpoints." Perhaps that is why (one reason why) as early in high school I got over "liberal" and "conservative" - not that those terms were or are meaningless, nor the opposition between those forces, nor that the claim to have transcended those terms isn't pretty common. A key to this has been the growing (yes, historical) realization and appreciation of, and commitment to, the communitarian, societal, civic republican - call it what you will - traditions as opposed to the lower-case libertarianism that forms the assumptions of so many people (the guns in this blog will aimed both port and starboard). This is also why theories of positive liberty mean something. The influence of Professor Govan has been lasting in this regard. Alasdair MacIntyre's philosophy as been a help here, modified by the insights of J.G.A. Pocock regarding the protean nature of the several , and conflicting, Enlightenment(s) that have formed our age for better and worse...

Now is when the incompleteness of list-making is overwhelming your humble scribe. I hope that I never even begin to lay out a "program" (however truncated) again. Let me conclude my introductory remarks by saying all the above postulates are hardly going to be rammed home with each posting and that I also love, among other things, Beefeater Gin and the San Francisco Giants.

Last Rites by John Lukacs. Yale University Press, 2009, 187 pages.

[ Watch this space]