Repost-Lawrence Wright At The New Yorker: ‘The Man Behind Bin Laden’

Full piece here.

A very detailed and thorough piece on Bin Laden’s number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri; his childhood in Cairo, the Islamist movement in Egypt…the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan…how he got where he was going:

“This great victory was possible only by the grace of God,” he says with quiet pride. “This was not just a human achievement—it was a holy act. These nineteen brave men who gave their lives for the cause of God will be well taken care of. God granted them the strength to do what they did. There’s no comparison between the power of these nineteen men and the power of America, and there’s no comparison between the destruction these nineteen men caused and the destruction America cause.’

Long but well done.  Very likely worth your time.

Related On This Site:

From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’From The NY Times: Review Of Christopher Caldwell’s Book “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West”

Are secular humanism and the kind of political freedoms we enjoy in the West incompatible with Islam?:  From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism

Robert Conquest At The Hoover Institution: ‘When Goodness Won’

On Andrei Sakharov:

‘The events of the long struggle in the Soviet Union between the despots and the “dissidents,” in which Andrei Sakharov played such a great role, were well described in his Memoirs, which appeared in English in 1990, and in the accounts of his valiant wife, Elena Bonner. But here we have the other side of the story: the long secret records kept by the KGB and submitted to the state and party leadership. And these documents are skillfully put into the larger context by an extensive and useful introduction by Joshua Rubenstein.’

and:

‘Another large misapprehension about the nature of the Soviet and similar regimes was that the “planned economy” meant something real. There was also, among progressives in the West, the idea that the “bourgeoisie” were a natural enemy of the forward-looking, adolescent intelligentsia, and that the “capitalists” were the natural enemies. There is a historical context for these sinister myths. British ambassadors to Russia in the late eighteenth century had noted that entrepreneurs had to seek the quick ruble because at any moment the state might confiscate their investments. And at the opposite pole of Russian society, the peasantry was fixed on the need to deceive the authorities to whom they were subservient—up to, and provoking, violent rural risings.’

As previously posted:

Ha!:

“Those teach who can’t do” runs the dictum,

But for some even that’s out of reach:

They can’t even teach—so they’ve picked ’em

To teach other people to teach.

Then alas for the next generation,

For the pots fairly crackle with thorn.

Where psychology meets education

A terrible bullshit is born.’

Many people still can’t handle how bad Communism was on the ground, and fewer these days are looking to keep the ideology up in the air, partly thanks to Conquest and his labors:

Some Tuesday Quotations And Poetry-The Eyes Have It

“Every person takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world.”

Arthur Schopenhauer

A pretty familiar re-post.

‘The eye sees what it brings the power to see’

Thomas Carlyle


 

Antonio Machado, sent in by a reader, years ago now.

El ojo que ves no es
ojo porque tú lo veas;
es ojo porque te ve.

The eye you see is not
An eye because you see it
It’s an eye because it sees you.


Robert Creeley and something a little more modern:

The Window

Position is where you
put it, where it is,
did you, for example, that

large tank there, silvered,
with the white church along-
side, lift

all that, to what
purpose? How
heavy the slow

world is with
everything put
in place. Some

man walks by, a
car beside him on
the dropped

road, a leaf of
yellow color is
going to

fall. It
all drops into
place. My

face is heavy
with the sight. I can
feel my eye breaking.

From The New Atlantis: ‘Love In The Age Of Neuroscience’

Our authors took a look at Tom Wolfe’s then new novel: ‘I Am Charlotte Simmons:’

Hmmm.:

‘I Am Charlotte Simmons’ is an indictment of the primary centers of higher education in America today. These institutions do not well serve the real longings and earnest ambitions of the young people who flock to them, at great cost and with great expectations, year after year. Instead of pointing students to a world that is higher than where they came from, the university reinforces and expands the nihilism and political correctness that they are taught in public schools, imbibe from popular culture, and bring with them as routine common sense when they arrive on campus. Of course, these two ideologies are largely incompatible: nihilism celebrates strength (or apathy) without illusion; political correctness promulgates illusions in the name of sensitivity. But both ideologies are the result of collapsing and rejecting any distinction between higher and lower, between nobility and ignobility, between the higher learning and the flight from reason.’

If you don’t have enough empathy, maybe it’s time for a brain-scan, a postmodern dance routine exploring the body in space, or a peace corps mission…

Everybody’s done fightin’ over yer soul….

As previously posted:

Ken Minogue framed it thusly:

‘Olympianism is the characteristic belief system of today’s secularist, and it has itself many of the features of a religion. For one thing, the fusion of political conviction and moral superiority into a single package resembles the way in which religions (outside liberal states) constitute comprehensive ways of life supplying all that is necessary (in the eyes of believers) for salvation. Again, the religions with which we are familiar are monotheistic and refer everything to a single center. In traditional religions, this is usually God; with Olympianism, it is society, understood ultimately as including the whole of humanity. And Olympianism, like many religions, is keen to proselytize. Its characteristic mode of missionary activity is journalism and the media.’

The satire of the liberal intelligentsia is pretty rich, as well as the Southern Gentleman’s WASP ‘rejuvenation.’ You just know Christopher Hitchens had to get-in on that action:

From the Late Show in 1989 with Howard Jacobson:

===============

Is Tom Wolfe seeing things clearly, as they really are?

Certainly the liberal pieties and the conflicted, activist base is still ripe for the picking…for what is preventing the mockery of the Brooklyn hipster and the echoing of ‘This Land Is Your Land’ across the fruited plain?:

Peter Berkowitz review of Tom Wolfe’s Miami novel here.

What are you looking for in a novel:  Ideas and the deployment of ideas?  A reflection of your life/times/society? Good prose?  Characters that pop into your life?  Glimpses of the author? Pleasure?

The deeper divisions, as Wolfe’s novel compellingly presents them, are between those who believe that happiness consists in one form of pleasure or another — including the aesthetic pleasure of sensitively glimpsing one’s own sensitivities and the sensitivities of others — and those who, like Tom Wolfe and his heroes, believe that happiness consists in the exercise of courage, self-control, and the other qualities of mind and character that constitute human excellence.’

A New Yorker review here.

See Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic: That Party At Lenny’s for a rich account of the 60′s.  I remember reading ‘A Man In Full‘ a while back, and having mixed feelings.

Repost-Photo And A Poem By Emerson: ‘Boston’

Boston-Skyline copy-1

Boston

(Sicut Patribus, sit Deus Nobis)

The rocky nook with hilltops three 
Looked eastward from the farms, 
And twice each day the flowing sea 
Took Boston in its arms; 
The men of yore were stout and poor, 
And sailed for bread to every shore. 

And where they went on trade intent 
They did what freeman can, 
Their dauntless ways did all men praise, 
The merchant was a man. 
The world was made for honest trade,- 
To plant and eat be none afraid. 

The waves that rocked them on the deep 
To them their secret told; 
Said the winds that sung the lads to sleep, 
‘Like us be free and bold!’ 
The honest waves refuse to slaves 
The empire of the ocean caves. 

Old Europe groans with palaces, 
Has lords enough and more;- 
We plant and build by foaming seas 
A city of the poor;- 
For day by day could Boston Bay 
Their honest labor overpay. 

We grant no dukedoms to the few, 
We hold like rights and shall;- 
Equal on Sunday in the pew, 
On Monday in the mall. 
For what avail the plough or sail, 
Or land or life, if freedom fail? 

The noble craftsmen we promote, 
Disown the knave and fool; 
Each honest man shall have his vote, 
Each child shall have his school. 
A union then of honest men, 
Or union nevermore again. 

The wild rose and the barberry thorn 
Hung out their summer pride 
Where now on heated pavements worn 
The feet of millions stride. 

Fair rose the planted hills behind 
The good town on the bay, 
And where the western hills declined 
The prairie stretched away. 

What care though rival cities soar 
Along the stormy coast: 
Penn’s town, New York, and Baltimore, 
If Boston knew the most! 

They laughed to know the world so wide; 
The mountains said: ‘Good-day! 
We greet you well, you Saxon men, 
Up with your towns and stay!’ 
The world was made for honest trade,- 
To plant and eat be none afraid. 

‘For you,’ they said, ‘no barriers be, 
For you no sluggard rest; 
Each street leads downward to the sea, 
Or landward to the West.’ 

O happy town beside the sea, 
Whose roads lead everywhere to all; 
Than thine no deeper moat can be, 
No stouter fence, no steeper wall! 

Bad news from George on the English throne: 
‘You are thriving well,’ said he; 
‘Now by these presents be it known, 
You shall pay us a tax on tea; 
‘Tis very small,-no load at all,- 
Honor enough that we send the call.’ 

‘Not so,’ said Boston, ‘good my lord, 
We pay your governors here 
Abundant for their bed and board, 
Six thousand pounds a year. 
(Your highness knows our homely word,) 
Millions for self-government, 
But for tribute never a cent.’ 

The cargo came! and who could blame 
If Indians seized the tea, 
And, chest by chest, let down the same 
Into the laughing sea? 
For what avail the plough or sail 
Or land or life, if freedom fail? 

The townsmen braved the English king, 
Found friendship in the French, 
And Honor joined the patriot ring 
Low on their wooden bench. 

O bounteous seas that never fail! 
O day remembered yet! 
O happy port that spied the sail 
Which wafted Lafayette! 
Pole-star of light in Europe’s night, 
That never faltered from the right. 

Kings shook with fear, old empires crave 
The secret force to find 
Which fired the little State to save 
The rights of all mankind. 

But right is might through all the world; 
Province to province faithful clung, 
Through good and ill the war-bolt hurled, 
Till Freedom cheered and the joy-bells rung. 

The sea returning day by day 
Restores the world-wide mart; 
So let each dweller on the Bay 
Fold Boston in his heart, 
Till these echoes be choked with snows, 
Or over the town blue ocean flows.

Ralph Waldo Emerson.

-Click through for more photos.