If the now ubiquitous American Freak Out is evidence of anything, perhaps it is a symptom of our lives on the new frontier. Maybe it’s happening because we are culturally marooned, neither here nor there just yet, but rather groaning through the death agonies of the old myths that once sustained us, while fighting savagely over the invention and control of the new myths we will eventually live by.
Over the years I have paid particular attention to my family history. Not because my family is in any way unique from anyone else’s, only that from a very young age I have been imbued with an abiding appreciation for the experiences of my ancestors. I’ve wanted to know them, or at least about them, and so maybe learn something about myself as I’ve traveled through this life. And it is the Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri branches of my family — Norwegians, Germans, and Dutch — who all wound up farther west at one point or another, that I have learned the most about
This year has been a particularly good one for those of us who are interested in old Rome, as new discoveries of letters, and even boxing gloves, at Hadrian’s Wall – a strange wall, indeed, for a host of reasons – and in fresh diggings at Herculaneum, Pompeii, and Oplontis, all destroyed by Vesuvius back in ’79 – have given us valuable new information about Roman life, culture, and reach, and indeed have overturned some apple carts.
There are people among us who think they have all the answers. They don’t. Blowhards and know‐it‐alls, particularly those of the political stripe, are really just people overcome by fright who have morphed into frenzied tent‐revivalists, and who would love to baptize you in the church of their own nightmares.