Author’s recommended approach to reading Anthology
April 9, 2021
This 2012 tome is a comprehensive extract of profound literacy by literate people whose grasp of human susceptibilities to every dodge imaginable in human affairs has continually wrought extreme hardship and loss of credibility to anything representing “the best interests” of mankind. The Primo Levi quote in the Forward on page 2 of the 55-page tome encapsulates this phenomenon.
I have a profound admiration for our chroniclers’ gift for gathering the evidence of our propensity for inching ourselves ever closer to oblivion. I was helped in familiarizing myself with the works of the chosen chroniclers by what I think of as “skip-reading” when confronted by a particularly dense report on any given topic. An example of this is George Kennan’s mia culpa leading to Walter Lippmann’s attribution of Kennan’s famous “Long Cable,” and distortion of it for a career-long elevation of himself as an astute judge of the conduct of U.S. foreign policy, when in fact he had an acutely parochial interest in the subject. His entire career as a columnist was based on this deceit, which Mr. Kennan was too civil to call by that name. All attempts by Mr. Kennan to persuade Lippmann to correct his mistaken interpretation of the cable were in vain.
I aver that Mr. Kennan couldn’t have expressed it better: these subjects require in-depth analysis with an understanding that the density of the topics under review require perspective that can be gained only by providing a longer view of the subject – which takes the time it takes. I am reminded of this frustrating reality by Mozart’s repost to his employer, Archbishop Colloredo’s critique of his music having “too many notes.” Mozart replied, “But your Worship, I employ only as many notes as I need – neither more nor less.” Both Kennan’s and Mozart’s appeal fell on deaf ears.
I urge you, Dear Reader, to avoid letting yourself be sloughed into a feeling of “too many notes” by the narratives I’ve extracted from the numerous, much larger texts of authors brought into this narrative by their superior powers of observation and the articulation of them provided by their experience and insights. Your willingness to accept my editorial premise will reward you profoundly if you you skip around these 55 pages, settling here and there as your mood allows, to savor just what it is that makes these people’s insights so important.