Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Godspeed, William F. Buckley

The contemplation of an enduring consciousness is a noble thing. For one mind to continuously survey the scene, week after week, year after year, age upon age, is a state of affairs both rare and admirable. That few would find in William F. Buckley's opinions and observations an unmitigated source of pleasure and agreement goes without saying. But his humour was sharp, his prose fluid, and his arguments, if not always so perfectly logical as he might urge us all to be, were well-considered and worthy of our consideration.

In his long-ago obituary for Ayn Rand, he pressed his hope that her Apollonian intellect might now be experiencing a sort of ravishment (he spoke of Heaven in almost Dionysian tones) such as her rationality might never (by his reckoning) have considered. If I had ever met Buckley, I might have asked him under what auspices in the Christian dispensation he justified the hope that Rand might be admitted to Paradise. Is libertarianism a workable substitute for Grace when caught in a divine pinch? Be that as it may, I salute the graciousness of Buckley's well-wishes to a philosophical adversary and extend to him the same.

It is said that Buckley was found dead at his desk at home; I cannot imagine but that he was either busily at work upon another column or lost in the magnificent strains of Johann Sebastian Bach. I admit to a kind of noble elation, and an envy, as I consider this passing of his, so in character with the man and the life he lived. I haven't picked up a "National Review" since October, but I assume he had continued at his work right to the very end. There are many sad and undeserving fates in this world; but to pass at age 82, in possession of one's faculties and still busy upon one's life-work, and at one's very desk to boot, is as desirable a means to embrace mortal necessity as we might imagine. He has gone to it in brave style. Godspeed, William F. Buckley