Gangsters, Poseurs, Buffoons

John Derbyshire is a complex person with nuanced judgments, many of which many may disagree or agree with, some of which some may find extraordinarily offensive. He writes well about mathematics (cf Prime Obsession (2004-01-04)); his fiction is challenging (cf Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream (2005-02-22)). His 2009 online essay "On Being Translated into Russian" concludes with a poetic political comment:

... The nations of the world are great lumbering behemoths ridden and directed, more often than not, by gangsters, poseurs, or buffoons. Nestled in their coarse hides, though, are parasites like myself and Aliosha, not much bothered by great matters of state or the antics of vapid "celebrities," but endlessly fascinated by language, history, mathematics, music. We must be baffling to the gangsters and buffoons, as baffling as they are to us. Sometimes the rougher kind of rider will, with a flick of his crop, flatten a few of us. "Only in Russia is poetry respected — it gets people killed." So quipped a Russian poet, shortly before being killed himself by one of the biggest gangsters of all.

My own country is not like that, for which I am everlastingly grateful. In matters of national leadership, we trend much more towards the poseurs and buffoons than to the gangsters. Should things ever change, I hope, without of course being able truly to know, I should go on doing what I am doing, taking my pleasures as I take them now, and cherishing the freemasonry of thoughtful, bookish, skeptical, humorous, and unworldly people everywhere — the only fellowship of the spirit that means anything to me.

Yes! — "... the fellowship of the spirit ..." — a quiet club worth joining ...

^z - 2020-01-21