Well-Gotten Gains by Robert Gore – Straight Line Logic
Time for a change.
Albert Jay Nock wrote one of the best essays ever written, “Isaiah’s Job,” which first appeared in The Atlantic Monthly in 1936. The Wikipedia biography of Nock is linked here, a Mises Institute reprint of the essay here. If you take the time to read the essay, I can almost guarantee that somewhere in the future, you will take the time to reread it. The essay is about the prophet Isaiah, and here in three paragraphs is its central premise.
The prophet’s career began at the end of King Uzziah’s reign, say about 740 B.C. This reign was uncommonly long, almost half a century, and apparently prosperous. It was one of those prosperous reigns, however — like the reign of Marcus Aurelius at Rome, or the administration of Eubulus at Athens, or of Mr. Coolidge at Washington — where at the end the prosperity suddenly peters out and things go by the board with a resounding crash.
In the year of Uzziah’s death, the Lord commissioned the prophet to go out and warn the people of the wrath to come. “Tell them what a worthless lot they are.” He said, “Tell them what is wrong, and why and what is going to happen unless they have a change of heart and straighten up. Don’t mince matters. Make it clear that they are positively down to their last chance. Give it to them good and strong and keep on giving it to them. I suppose perhaps I ought to tell you,” He added, “that it won’t do any good. The official class and their intelligentsia will turn up their noses at you and the masses will not even listen. They will all keep on in their own ways until they carry everything down to destruction, and you will probably be lucky if you get out with your life.”
Isaiah had been very willing to take on the job — in fact, he had asked for it — but the prospect put a new face on the situation. It raised the obvious question: Why, if all that were so — if the enterprise were to be a failure from the start — was there any sense in starting it? “Ah,” the Lord said, “you do not get the point. There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about. They are obscure, unorganized, inarticulate, each one rubbing along as best he can. They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and build up a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on. Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it.”
I suppose I knew, deep down, before I wrote the first word of my first novel, The Gordian Knot, that I would be writing for the Remnant. That’s not to say I’m in the same league as the prophet Isaiah. My sales, and the sales of my next two novels, The Golden Pinnacle and Prime Deceit, certainly confirm that I wasn’t writing for the masses. As a first novel The Gordian Knot had its flaws, and perhaps only merited its small, presumably indulgent, readership. I’m a quick study, though, and I try to be as rigorously self-critical and open to improvement as a fallible human with an ego can be. The next two novels were much better, and years after I’ve written them, I can’t see anything in either one that I’d change. They deserve a wider audience, and some day they may get it.
Not that I’ve ever wanted to be a bestseller machine. We Remnant writers know that’s never going to happen, and the whole routine seems quite distasteful. Keep writing books that are just like that first bestseller, only a little different. Resign yourself to whatever pigeonhole agents, publishers, and the bestseller lists consign you. Pull away from the tedious job of writing until you reach the next-to-highest level of the contemporary writing pyramid: your name on the cover selling books ghostwritten by the name in much smaller print below. Finally, that highest level, attained by only a few: hefty sales of new books with your name on the cover, written after you’re dead. I can’t begin to imagine the joy those elite authors must feel.
I suppose I also knew, deep down, when I started Straight Line Logic that I was blogging for the Remnant. The hit counter on my site indicates that here again, I’m not writing for the masses. However, by the standards of the alternative media I’ve done relatively well in a relatively short time. My articles are regularly reposted on sites with much greater readership than mine. Occasionally I’m invited by people who like what I write to give speeches to groups with which they are affiliated.
Unfortunately, we’ve reached Peak Insanity, and I’m tired of chronicling and commenting upon it. Regular readers know the insane litany, rehashing it here would be tedious. It’s become a struggle to find something new to write about, or even to write about something old in an interesting new way.