Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Conservative Egghead Death Vortex

I didn't really have a lot of love for William F. Buckley, Jr. I certainly didn't hate him, and whether you agreed with him or not, his presence added a level of sophistication otherwise absent in the often boorish world of political jabber. You felt he was aristocratic enough to effectively deliver the elitism he espoused. I guess. He had a good run.

The only reason I'm posting about this at all is that this weekend, a number of things made me think of an old college roommate of mine. He and I bonded over an appreciation of obtuse classical music (he was my assistant one semester at the radio station before taking over the classical show on Sundays), and I needed to get out of the apartment I was in, and he needed a roommate fast, so there it was. He was a math major, though I never got the feeling he was a natural at it. He spent hours and hours locked away in his room, tearing away at a blackboard, trying to wrap his mind around advanced topological formulae and whatnot. He did crazy things like ate the same exact sandwich at Blimpie's everyday in an effort to streamline and order things.

He was also a staunch conservative; something else I felt didn't really come natural to him. He had an impossibly rigid life planned out for himself, often recited: undergrad in math at LSU, graduate study at A Good School, professional track position in an engineering firm for a number of years before returning to academia, then marriage, one female child. He had no discernable social life except for the occasional get-together with his almost exclusively gay friends. His passion for high art and culture (from afar - he meticulously kept clippings in binders) didn't really jive with the Good Republican act. Also, his daddy issues were colossal. He spoke of his father in regal terms, referring to him as "my father" in his resonant, formal yet brilliant way of speaking. This led up to everyone in our circle being certain that he was a repressed homosexual but now, I think he just may have been a peculiar guy who people always thought was gay, and like everyone else in their twenties, was latching onto whatever made sense.

William Buckley was the mortar to his loose bricks. He was a hardcore fan, and he read all of his books, and spoke of him as a mythic figure, chuckling over whatever lethal barb ol' Buckley launched at the hapless liberal menace today. To have someone as quippy and fabulous as Buckley on the side of one's professed belief system was probably a real problem solver and a comfort for what seemed to be a soul in conflict. So for that, I'm thankful for William F. Buckley and I hope that old roommate found what he was looking for.

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