I often return to the poets these days. From great translations of the Illiad and the Odyssey to Beowulf, from Shakespeare to Dylan Thomas, and more frequently to the modern giants like Charles Wright, Richard Hugo, or Galway Kinnell, I find a touchstone that gentles my nerves. That ritual works for me because fine poets fire the language with precision, and stoke the imagination with what John Keats called “Negative Capability.” Our world is sorely lacking in appreciation for the mysterious and the levitating these days, and the airwaves are so rich with insincerity, so over‐cooked with political certainty and righteous declarations, that the daily and endless caterwauling amounts to a kind of relentless propaganda bullhorn.
“At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined… could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make […]
A recent letter to the editor in The Nugget Newspaper, which I edit and where Craig has a column, defended “political correctness” as “basically another term for respect, consideration, kindness, and generosity towards others despite their race, ethnicity, gender, or disability.” This definition elides the modern origins of the term, which lie in totalitarian attempts to own […]
I’m drawn to those quiet little outbursts of humanity demanding attention, that impulse to declare with some permanence: “I was here”. It is the same impulse, I suppose, that drove my wife and I to put our handprints and our names in the wet concrete when we built our barn. For good measure, we added the paw prints of our dogs, and I scratched the date in with a nail.
“How is it,” asks my interlocutor, “that you immerse yourself in all of this dark history, and yet you don’t seem cynical?” Well, that’s a fair question. I’m tempted to simply throw down another Edward Abbey quote and let it go at that: “Don’t let yourself become cynical. Cynicism is a cheap emotion, a craven substitute for thought […]
After a quarter‐century as an Oregonian, I finally experienced one of the state’s iconic events. My daughter and I attended the Oregon Country Fair. This countercultural extravaganza on six acres of oaks along the Long Tom River west of Eugene has been encouraging thousands to let their freak flag fly since 1969. There are multitudes of angles to […]
My hometown is fixin’ to get the blues in a big way the first weekend of August. A couple of music‐lovin’, cable‐stringin,’ hammer swingers are making it happen out of their own passion and pocket. I love that. I love it in the abstract, and I love it because it’s the same damn‐fool thing I and a few other people did […]
I used to play in the orange groves Till they bulldozed all the trees Then I’d stand among those dead stumps And smell the blossoms on the breeze… — Dave Alvin, “Dry River”* * I don’t know why I like to drive ’em like I do You know it ain’t nothin’ but A hundred and seventy‐five thousand […]
My brain tends to behave like a .22 bullet: Thoughts ricochet around and wind up in weird places where they shouldn’t be. You’ve heard the stories: Guy gets shot in the right ankle and that little 40‐grain pill bounces around and pops out his left eyeball; that’s how it works. This is NOT a systematic or […]
The meeting between the Blackfoot party and Lewis’ own did not end well. The following morning several of the Blackfoot – according to Lewis – crowded around the campfire and stole a number of rifles, including those belonging to Drewyer and Lewis. A chase ensued in which there was a fight, and R. Fields stabbed a Blackfoot through the heart with his knife. The fight then was then general – as other Blackfoot were attempting to steal horses — and ended when Lewis shot a Blackfoot in the belly. It was a close run thing, as Lewis wrote upon the return fire he “felt the wind of the ball very distinctly.”
I’ve read speculative reports that Trumpy has suggested throwing up a few McDonalds restaurants in North Korea, and as funny and ridiculous as that sounds, maybe the Golden Arches could serve as a kind of ping‐pong diplomacy for the modern age. Because even the most ardent communist occasionally, deep down inside, craves a Big Mac and fries.
One of the perils of doing the work that we do at The Running Iron Report is that there’s a tendency to focus on the negative. While we’re certainly about diagnosing the illnesses of the Empire, our true purpose is scouting out a path to a worthy, honorable way of living in these strange times. We cannot afford […]