In these times of urgency, there are no longer any heroes. Granted, there are, but remembrance of their endeavors is short-lived. I found myself reflecting upon this yesterday, after the death of a famous Twitter personality, a Twitter star. Two days have passed and no one remembers him. His fame came in life. And it died with him.
The 21st century spits out leaders at the same speed at which it invents new taxes. Unrestingly. And unfortunately, it does not forget taxes as fast as it forgets leaders.
Perhaps we no longer truly admire. Perhaps we admire as superficially as we live and unfortunately in the same hurried way in which we love. When thinking about it, one cannot help but to reflect on the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: “The way people behave. They refuse to admire their contemporaries, the people whose lives they share. No, but to be admired by Posterity — people they’ve never met and never will — that’s what they set their hearts on. You might as well be upset at not being a hero to your great-grandfather.” This is not a criticism of posterity, it is a call to contemplate our contemporaries, to value them, to be inspired by them as some of us still try to find inspiration in the classics.
Little has been written about the fleeting nature of postmodern fame, perhaps because nobody adheres steadfastly to anything any longer. The Left nowadays cancels not only right-wingers, but historical leftists as well if they stray from the path of the progressive catechism. Conservatives, in the midst of this mess, can hardly find the time to parade our dead referents, in order to avoid them falling into oblivion.
I do confess that I don’t know if we have any present-day Kirks, Chestertons, and Buckleys… Or if it’s simply a case of not having enough time to read them, nor the calm to appreciate them. I find it hard to believe that our generation shouldn’t produce at least three or four illustrious thinkers.
In the old days, it was not unheard of that an author might die in poverty, without ever seeing any recognition for their work, but then someone would invariably pull them out of oblivion, publish them, and they would finally reap their triumph post-mortem. Now, that will most certainly not happen. It is likely that those who would publish us after death would take one look at our tweets and conclude that we were simply morons with nothing worth reading. In my case, they will probably be right, but it will be unfair, I suppose, for many others.
I don’t want to be melodramatic about it either. The authors of The American Spectator often prove me wrong, with brilliant, funny, and inspired texts. I will not therefore make a drama. Maybe I’ll just shine a light on the issue in case someone wants to take a closer look at it. Maybe we should continue to elevate and take time to read the good ones. Maybe as well as telling everyone to keep reading the classics, we should read them more ourselves.
I can’t give up. I’m incapable of believing that all the smart ideas, all the inspiring thoughts, everything well-written, and each and every funny text can fit in a tweet from an anonymous tweeter, or in a TikToker’s Instagram captions. If we want to hold on to the good stuff, maybe we should take care of what’s ours today.
Translated by Joel Dalmau.