I’m reading The Collected Short Stories of Maxim Gorky and The Lower Depths and Other Plays by Maxim Gorky. Gorky was a communist in Russia and an avid supporter of the revolution. He was also a great writer—quite fascinating, though a naturalist who focused on “the lower depths” of society.
Gorky wrote, “For me, I have no other than ‘Man.’ Man and Man alone, I believe, is the creator of all things and all ideas; it is he who accomplishes miracles, and in in the future, will become master of all the forces of nature. That which is most beautiful in nature has been created by the labor of Man, and his intelligent hand. The history of art, of the sciences, of technology teaches us that all out thoughts, our ideas emanate from the process of Labor. I bow down to Man.”
Other than the Marxism in the “process of Labor” line, I admire this statement. It would be reviled today by both the environmentalist left and the religious right; that’s good enough for me!
Gorky was poisoned by Stalin’s secret police in 1936.
I’m also reading Elizabeth and Essex by Lytton Strachey, an entertaining history of two drama queens. There was no internet or TV then, so Elizabeth and her court entertained themselves by creating drama in their lives. Elizabeth’s father, King Henry VIII, cut off her mother Anne Boleyn’s head when Elizabeth was three years old. “Daddy, where’s mommy?” That might explain why she never married—she knew what kings were capable of doing to a wife.
I read history always looking for play ideas. Elizabeth and Essex have been dramatized before, but the period might serve as a backdrop to a romantic drama.
I just got 3 non-fiction books as gifts and am currently reading It’s the Sun, Not Your SUV By John Zyrkowski with subtitle “CO2 Won’t Destroy the Earth” with a forward by Peter Dietze who was an IPCC Reviewer. I’m finishing chapter one right now which looks at the so-called alternative, green energy sources, solar, wind, etc. The 2nd chapter asks “Why Buy This Book?” and intends to answer three questions:
- What will I learn?
- How will I learn it?
- What does it mean?
I’m intrigued because these questions are both metaphysical and epistemological in nature, contexts that need to be addressed. I look forward to the rest of this short, essentialized book—98 pages of text followed by references and two appendixes.
State of Fear by Michael Crichton: people have recommended this book to me for years but I just couldn’t imagine a decent plot around debunking global warming theory. It’s been much better (read much more compelling) than I expected and the graphs and refutations aren’t distracting. I can’t imagine anyone reading it and being convinced about the global warming hype machine, but it’s nice to think that a major author got this published.
The Mystery of Capital by Hernando de Soto: I just got back from Ethiopia two weeks ago—I was adopting a baby boy from there—and I couldn’t understand why the country was so poor. Everywhere I looked people were working hard, small businesses seemed to be flourishing, and my agency contacts there assured me that government wasn’t oppressive. I’ve mulled all of this over ever since and I think de Soto’s book (subtitled “Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else”) might hold the key to unraveling the mystery. We shall see.
Economics for Real People by Gene Callahan: this is available free online and I’m looking for a good primer on Austrian economics before I take the plunge and read Ludwig von Mises’ seminal works. I’ve tried to read Human Action several times before but always failed for lack of motivation. Perhaps after reading Callahan’s breezy introduction, I will feel like I want to read the deeper tomes.