Saturday, November 08, 2014

`The Side That Has Already Lost'

“A writer should know that only a few of those who look at him will actually see him.” 

Few look at Nicolás Gómez Dávila – Don Colacho -- and fewer see him. Among the latter is a young writer new to me, Chris R. Morgan, who has written a stylish tribute to the Colombian master aphorist (1913-1994). How pleasing to see a young writer with sufficient maturity to recognize Don Colacho’s worth: “On the surface, these aphorisms seem like throwaways. Yet Gómez Dávila’s mind was not wired for frivolity. In spite of their brevity, each escolio has a sculpted composition, fashioned to conform to an overriding vision that is as rigid in its consistency as it was free from ideological conventions.” 

Our thinking grows increasingly binary, a predisposition encouraged by the nature of “social media” and the more fashionable neighborhoods of the digital world: “like” as a substitute for “think.” With Don Colacho, his aphorisms, read individually, are calls to self-examination. They betray our will to dishonesty and cowardice, intellectual and otherwise. Only superficially are they tweet-like. Morgan’s choice of “sculpted” is precise and inspired. All the dross has been removed. Even when he is mistaken, Don Colacho is usefully mistaken. So is Morgan: 

“If conservatives are characterized by nostalgia, reactionaries are characterized by decadence. Conservatives build networks and speak in sound bites; reactionaries build mausoleums and speak in epitaphs. Reactionaries are aesthetic rather than practical thinkers. They play alongside, if not across, the border of tragedy and fatalism. Civil debate is meaningless to the side that has already lost.” 

This might be Morgan's gloss on such Gómez Dávila-esque aperçus as these:                  

“The reactionary today is merely a traveler who suffers shipwreck with dignity.” 

“The pure reactionary is not a dreamer of abolished pasts, but a hunter of sacred shades on the eternal hills.”

“We reactionaries provide idiots the pleasure of feeling like daring avant-garde thinkers.”

[I know little about Chris R. Morgan but found interviews with him here and here, some of his reviews here, and Biopsy here.]


George said...

The early pages of John Lukacs's Confessions of an Original Sinner have some interesting remarks on the reactionary as against the conservative minds.

CRM said...

Thank you, Mr. Kurp for your thoughtful response to my piece, especially regarding its style, which given the subject matter was something I wanted to get just right. Of course good editing was just as instrumental. I'm quite proud of how it turned out. Again, thank you.