I’ve known David Horowitz for more than 20 years, from the time he came through town with Peter Collier talking about their invaluable book Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts About the Sixties. As Jay Nordlinger has written, David was a leader of the New Left who became a leader of the fighting Reaganite Right: “He is a thinker and a doer, an intellectual and an activist. His mind ranges widely, and so do his books. He has written about politics and policy, of course. But he has also written about matters literary, cultural, and spiritual.” He remains a prolific writer and voluble observer.
David is the author, most recently, of A Point in Time, published this week. The book follows on A Cracking of the Heart, a meditation on his daughter’s life and death, and The End of Time, reflections occasioned by his bout with cancer. I asked David if he would write something for our readers on the new book. He has kindly responded with the following note:
I have spent the last thirty years of my life trying to understand why it is that so many people living in the greatest and happiest country on earth should be permanently and irretrievably at war with it. What is it that drives otherwise good people to be hostile to civilized democracies like the United States and Israel on the one hand, and sympathetic to barbarian societies and creeds who have sworn to destroy them on the other? This little book I have written — Radical Son, it is, I think, the best book I have written.
“A point in time” refers to us – our brief moment in the march of eternity. The text is partly a memoir of my aging years and the reflections I have had on their approaching terminus (don’t be alarmed, I plan to be around for a long time; I wouldn’t give my enemies the satisfaction…). The rest of the book addresses those larger questions through the lives and writings of Marcus Aurelius and Fyodor Dostoevsky.
The two parts are related. It is the brevity of our time in this life that causes us to ask whether it all adds up. Is there a meaning to our existence? Do our efforts amount to anything? Is there a reason for our suffering? These are timeless questions, which occur to every sentient one of us. Most of us require some kind of answer that allows us to face the day ahead. It is my view that there are really only two answers possible, namely that there is a redemption awaiting us in a next life, or that we can redeem this one by making the world a different place. All the evils that we associate with messianic political movements like Nazism, Communism, progressivism and the Islamic jihad, flow from the desire to redeem this world by making it holy, pure, and socially just. That is the argument of the text.
This little book is also about my dogs (and my horses) and the way I spend my days. It opens with these words:
“As the years recede, as inexorably they must, and my step begins to falter, I have adopted a routine of taking my dogs for a walk up the long and leafy grade in front of my house, and back. It is the way I keep my body moving and my heart in shape, and how I fix an eye on my animal self, which unlike my imagination that could go on forever, will not.
“There are four of us to keep each other company on these repetitive rounds—myself, two spirited Chihuahuas named Jake and Lucy, and a lumbering Bernese Mountain Dog whom my wife has named Winnie after the fictional bear. The big dog’s colors are black and brown with a white slash at the throat, and she limps affably behind us, hobbled by hips displaced from over-breeding, bearing it all without complaint.
“As we make our way up the incline, the little ones race ahead spinning out their spooled leashes, weaving as they go like furry kites their noses to the ground following invisible trails. Jake is a black and white spot who hurries nervously on spindly legs that narrow sharply at the joints creating a pink translucence where the light pokes through. Lucy, a muscular auburn, is the alpha of our pack, with moves aggressive and hunter-like. The martial presence is undermined, however, by ears that flop at the ends and quizzical brown eyes whose rims are wrinkled like the progeria children who grow old before they grow up. “
I hope you will like it.
Please check it out.