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Published on February 19th, 2013

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Anthony “Rek” LeCounte: The Tradition of Ink and Wood



“To recognize that there is a need to distinguish…between the good and the evil in tradition, requires recognition of the preeminent role (not, lest I be misunderstood, the sole role) of reason in distinguishing among the possibilities which have been open to men since the serpent tempted Eve and Adam…” –Frank S. Meyer

“Some people aren’t books, they’re poems.” –A Softer World, 680

                “Some people aren’t books, they’re poems.” –A Softer World, 680

Mom used to take me to bookstores on occasional trips to the mall or en route to some all-day set of errands. Barnes & Noble, Borders, some local community shop—I cared less for the name on the door than for the promises teased on back covers and inside flaps. She and I have long been avid readers, so these little sojourns to outposts of the empire of narrative were often my favorite part of an entire week. It’s a shame there were no frequent-traveler miles for wandering by print.

Years after our last trip together to whatever manuscript emporium, Mom bought me an eReader for Christmas. She asked me if I would use it. I told her I would, and I sincerely meant it. I have read a few books since that day. Not a one has lacked the tree-born pages so amenable to dog ears and annotation. It turns out that for all the time absorbed by the many screens in my life, I remained a reactionary on books. It was never even a conscious choice but simply a fact of me.

But the more I think on it, the more I find myself an unrepentant partisan of the traditional, battery-free book. The reason is not that I hate eReaders, want them to go away, or somehow associate them with civilizational decline—to the contrary, ebooks and other digital goods are the latest children of the mind, as worthy of celebration and use as their elder siblings. But in the end, the experience of a natural book is to the LED script of an ebook as the sound of your voice is to the lines of a text or as getting lost under the sky is to clicking through Google Maps Satellite.

It’s a bit like the ongoing conservation of conservatism.

On the one hand, you have traditionalists clinging to such antiquated values as family, honor, duty, loyalty, and transcendence because they speak holistically to the disparate and unified condition of humanity. Tradition, after all, is as much a project of aesthetics as of truth, as much for the heart as for the mind. It is the anchor of the eternally silent majority in cold, cosmic seas—the balance of agency and cupidity in the present by the democracy of the dead.

An eReader battery dies or “digital rights” management prevents you from sharing your ebook with a friend. But at any time you can read a paperback and give it to anyone as readily as your community imparts the peculiar stamp of its wisdom and flaws. A dog-eared page can trigger memories or fantasies as poignantly as a photograph in a loved one’s home. The annotations on paper are as stories told across decades, iced tea, pecan pie, and the background sound of children playing. There is something ineffably raw about a book that is lost in translation to yet another screen between you and the escalating abstractions of a rapidly digitizing world. There’s something about the way the markings and the mass carry separate, wordless stories of joy and pain, vulnerability and hope.

On the other hand, you have libertarians beating the drums of pragmatism, efficiency, liberty, idiosyncrasy, and autonomy. Denying sentiment, they offer function. Against reaction, they demand solutions. No longer impressed either by tradition—and underlying assumptions of old authority and static truth—or establishment—and its atrophic will to complacency—they seek above all freedom from imposed shackles and entrenched stupidity.

A book is a tool to impart knowledge or provide entertainment. Where we progressed from vinyl to cassette tapes to CDs to iPods, we have evolved from oral tradition to manuscript to paperbacks to ebooks. Our lives are more efficient, our opportunities more plausible, our tools more expansively useful when technology captures libraries in the palms of our hands. There is something uniquely enabling about the power to construct and define your own domain in an increasingly automated society.

Where these perspectives meet is in the question central to the whole project of free society, and the narratives it keeps—what is freedom for?

Is it really convenient to have a universe in a Kindle if you no longer know the spontaneous pleasure of glancing at a shelf, grabbing an inviting title, and reclining into a place where the smells of wood, paper, and earth create worlds within worlds of imagining? Are you really better off if you no longer find reason to flip through an old favorite and reminisce over highlighted passages that once breathed clarity into vast labyrinths of mystery? Are you freer if your autonomy comes in automated packaging that will wipe away its every memory of you under the commands of a stranger? Under all the paeans for progress and efficiency, are you any less of a hopeful machine wanting pieces of the world to retain some piece of you when you’re gone? Or will we have people autograph our eReaders now?

I’m not saying abandon your Nook and your smartphone and read only through disposable media. I rarely read print news anymore at home, but I would be remiss to deny preferring the touch of an express paper to my smartphone on the morning Metro. I would never want to live in any dimension where the expanse of human knowledge is beyond reach of my hand. And I would not care to endure an era where all simple joys of old pleasures were ever abandoned for newer toys. What I cherish is knowing that the convenient genius of an eReader is always within reach, even as I freely choose to seek my stories elsewhere.

There should be a word for the things we do, not because they’re sensible, but because we want to.

This post was written in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge from The Daily Post.

*****

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anthony “Rek” LeCounte has been keenly engaged in politics and philosophy ever since the 2000 election invented “Red” and “Blue” states while reminding everyone that courts can change the world. He is a graduate from Yale with a degree in Political Science and expects any future husband to love politics and college football at least half as much as he does. He blogs about conservative policy, principles, and political philosophy at Token Dissonance. Tweet him @RekLeCounte

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9 Responses to Michael Brown, Ferguson, and Black Attitudes to Policing

  1. John says:

    We Blacks really need to wake up! We are being lead by some very evil people and most of these evil people are in the Democratic Party. Whenever you listen to Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, Barry Obama and Eric Holder you are being told a bunch of lies. Do not listen to these men – They are no good!!!!!! I have not heard anything about the condition of the police officer.
    This article is stupid. And the article is hoping that you are stupid also. This young man was not going to college! He is getting high and robbing stores. Beating up smaller people!
    Tell Al, Barry, Jessie and eric to go to Chicago and reverse their backward policies so that we can save some of those Black younger people. We do not have a problem with White police killing Blacks – We have a problem with Blacks killing Blacks. Look at the facts! and stop listening to these fools.

    • Jack says:

      First of all you are not Black so you can stop the charade….second ..Micheal brown did not commit any crime so he should not have been shot….Third this is the 4th unarmed Black person to be killed by white cops in August , therefore we do have a problem with white police killing Black people…correction…unarmed Black people…The problem of Black on Black crime is no different than white on white crime and the serial killers that roam the streets in white neighborhoods….Also the “organized crime” problem is never addressed or discussed when it comes to white on white crime…Crime has been going on for centuries before Obama , Jesse , Sharpton were even born…and the crime rate in the country has actually gone down …You are just trying to justify the killing of another Black person…ain’t that right Adolf….

  2. MacG says:

    “One of the most popular refrains whenever a black man is unjustly killed by a white police officer is, “Most murders of black people are committed by other blacks. Why do we only care when it’s a white-on-black murder?” One cannot help but notice that the intent of this line is not to demonstrate any concern for the loss of black life.”

    First off how many are ‘unjust’?

    The point of this from my pov is not about exoneration of whites but hypocrisy of the black ‘community’ why should anyone care when there is no black outrage over blacks killed by blacks. Show your outrage at every black killed and maybe others will as well. The sheer volume of such killings makes it a ho-hum statistic. Maybe that’s the source of the rage living in the Hood – Victim-Hood by blacks, snitches get stitches and all can’t even persue justice without risking life and limb, then there is finally the white bogey man to release all of that pent up grief and communal self imposed injustice. Why so many? I notice that you rounded blacks down to 12% of the population so answer me why blacks account for committing 37% of all of the murders in the United States in 2012 http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2012/crime-in-the-u.s.-2012/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded-homicide/expanded_homicide_data_table_3_murder_offenders_by_age_sex_and_race_2012.xls. Any wonder why when Cops deal with bad guys day in and day out, 37% percent of the murders they deal with are committed by just 12% of the population, their frame of reference may be skewed?

  3. Darnell says:

    There are several issues surrounding the Michael Brown case that need to be address. I will attempt to take a look at a few.

    First, I feel for the parents of Mike Brown for the lost of their child.

    Second, the black community need to stop acting like Mike Brown was a good guy. The store video proves that. For the record, I don’t believe that was the first time he had stolen from a store in that neighborhood. I can only imagine what his state of mind was when he was confronted by the police officer just 10 minutes later after intimidating the clerk at the store. My guess is he was combative which led to his death. Although the cop may have knew nothing about the crime he committed.

    However, should he have been shot six times….absolutely not. A good butt whipping may have been in order though. This bring me to my next point. There are many police officers especially white officers that are scared to death of black people especially big black guys. Many of these officers could not whip a flee if they life depended on it…. less known handle the high volume of crime within these low income black communities that requires confrontation with criminals on a regular basis. The last thing they need is a badge and a gun. They only become police officers just to have a job.

    My last point is this. I believe if this would have happen a few generations ago, Mike Brown would have made it home alive at some point. Police officers back in the day were tough and carried night sticks and would literally beat the crap out of you in a confrontation. Liberalism along with the ACLU with all of their brutality claims help reduce this kind of law enforcement. This has hurt the black community. Now a cop can’t reach for a night stick…only a gun.

    Crime is out of control within the black community and we wonder why there are no jobs. The burning and looting of businesses within your own community do not make sense. All it does is create more unemployment which is high enough already.

  4. Lisa says:

    Why are we talking about looting, black on black crime, or anything else other than one thing: Mike Brown was killed. A young boy was murdered by a police officer, someone who is supposed to protect and serve us. The case will now center on (1). did this officer have probable cause to believe a serious crime had been committed? (2). why did the officer stop these particular two teens? (3). was there a struggle? (4). why was lethal force was used? (5). was lethal force justified? Let’s stick with the facts, and avoid the sensationalism. BOTH the left and right are guilty of this.

    • Darnell says:

      The supreme court has ruled that the police do not have a duty to protect anyone. The police job is to ENFORCE the laws. Your protection is ultimately left up to YOU.

    • MacG says:

      Speaking if sensationalism: a young boy? How about he was a full on legal adult? Sure he was a teenager but he was in fact a 200+ lb’er plus 6 foot plus tall adult teen. They won’t even say he was in his late teens keeping the image of a little minor in the reader’s mind. A broken orbital socket is a pretty good indication of a struggle – something that a young boy would have a difficult time inflicting on an adult…

      I hate to see anybody die like this – even the gang bangers shooting each other – stupid waste of life and I do feel sorry for the parents. Head’s up for other parents, do you know what your kids are up to?

  5. Jack says:

    It\s amazing how many stupid comments actually try to defend these murdering cops …First of all Micheal Brown didn’t commit any crime so why was he harrassed by the cop…??? Second why was he shot 10 times..???..Is there really an Amadu Diallo reason for shooting unarmed Black people so many times..??..Third..Please shut up about Obama , Sharpton , Jesse or any other Black person THAT SPEAKS OUT AGAINST OUR UNARMED BROTHERS AND SISTERS GETTING KILLED BY RACIST WHITE COPS….Most Black conservatvies are either silent about such actions or they defend the killings because the victims are some form of a Black person not having the “massa we sick” attitude toward life…I respect the author of this article because even though we may disagree on certain policies there is no excuse for any Black person to defend these racist cops and he calls them out…By the way , why is it that a white serial killer is called “distrubed , unloved , aloof , bullied” etc…You never hear these mass killers called ‘thugs , criminals , radicals’ etc…but let an unarmed Black person get shot for reasons like walking home , pumping gas , breaking up a fight , lying on the ground with their hands cuffed behind their back , asking for help , etc and all of a sudden they are given these stereotyipcal labels….AND WHAT DO MUST BLACK CONSERVATIVES DO …They whine about Black on Black crime and ignore white on white crime…they whine about civil rights leaders but do nothing about stopping racism…That’s the real disappointing thing about all these cases of unarmed Black people getting killed…Not the way white people react , because I expect that from most white people …it is the way some Black people act…I wonder what would happen when one of their loved faces racism or death by racism….

    • Darnell says:

      Speaking like a true black liberal…..it is always black conservatives to blame for not speaking out on racism by police. Black liberals never look at their own policies or voting records which contribute to the problems in the first place.

      Look!!!! Ferguson is 67% black. Why they have a local police force that is predominately white is a question that the people in Ferguson need to ask themselves. This the result of action or inaction by voters. Black conservatives have nothing to do with this ignorance.

      As for fighting racism……what better way to address racism by taking control of your community instead of depending on government.

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