This might be the longest interval between posts since I first started blogging.
I have a few excuses: First, the deadline for my forthcoming book has been fast-approaching.
Second, my family and I moved across Brooklyn a couple of weeks ago, on the morning after a 15-inch snowfall. My Internet access has been spotty at best since then and will continue to be so for another week or so (who knew that it took a month to get a phone and Internet set up in one of the biggest, most prosperous cities in the world?).
Third, I must have “caught a chill,” as my mother would have put it, what with all that running around in the snow and slush. To make a long story short, I’ve had pneumonia on top of everything else.
In the meantime, CPAC is at full steam, all hell is breaking loose in Egypt, and Bill Kristol is drawing invidious comparisons between Glenn Beck’s conspiracy theories about the Islamist-Progressive nexus and Robert Welch’s about the Communists. I should have been posting about all of this, but instead I’ve been flat on my back, feverishly perseverating Revilo P. Oliver’s palindromic name. Revilo Oliver Oliver Revilo Revilo Oliver Oliver Revilo….
The undoubtedly brilliant but singularly vile Revilo P. Oliver, PhD (jauntily pictured above) taught in both the classic and modern language departments at the University of Illinois and was a director of research for cryptology at the Signal Corps during World War II. He was to Robert Welch in the mid-sixties what Robert Welch was to William Buckley–an old comrade whose candor was more trouble than it was worth (Buckley and Oliver were old compadres too, but Buckley shucked him long before Welch did). Oliver’s most famous quote–which really IS taken out of context–comes from a speech he delivered before the New England Rally For God, Family, and Country on July 2, 1966:
The conspiracy that is destroying us, we are told, is a conspiracy of Communists or of Illuminati or of Jews. Now most of the authors who offer us one or another of those three identifications expound their view in a manner that is less than cogent. Most of them either overstate or oversimplify their case, and some of them, I am sorry to say, give the impression that they are no more intelligent than “Liberal intellectuals.” Most of the writers on this subject are either so fascinated by their own discoveries or so anxious to convince a maximum number of readers that they imply that the conspiracy they identify is the root of all evil — that is if it were abolished, mankind — all mankind, mind you — would enter, instanter, on a Golden Age of peace and domestic tranquility and happiness. If only by some miracle all the Bolsheviks or all of the Illuminati or all the Jews were vaporized at dawn tomorrow, we should have nothing more to worry about. The trouble with that beatific vision, of course, is that every educated man knows that it just can’t be so.
Like I said, Oliver’s words were taken out of context. As he himself put it in an essay in 1985, in his typically grating style, “Now I do not in the least object to [the] implication that I am sadly deficient in veneration for the world-conquering Sheenies who have occupied and rule what was once a White Man’s country, but I do resent the libelous imputation that I adopted one of the simple-minded simplifications to which I specifically objected.” To put it in its proper context, the title of Oliver’s speech was “Conspiracy or Degeneracy?”; his conclusion was that racial mixing had already done more irreparable harm to Western culture than any mere conspiracy could hope to.
When I pull myself together, I might want to post some more about Oliver. In the meantime, he is keeping me company in my fever dreams.