»  VDARE.com Monthly Diary

  July 2017


Hatefest in Tennessee.     This month's big event was the annual conference of American Renaissance in Tennessee over the last weekend. It was a great success — the best of the several AmRen conferences I've attended.

One difference with previous AmRen conferences in this location is that the anti-white protestors (practically all of them, of course, white themselves — Goodwhites) were allowed to stand right outside the main door of the conference center, instead of on the other side of the parking lot as formerly. This change apparently resulted from legal pressure.

This made no difference to us attendees inside, other than to give us and the protestors close looks at each other through the conference-center windows. It did, though, probably lead to the first ever punch-up between one of ours and several of theirs, reported at the end of AmRen's own conference report.

Nobody seems to know how the fight got started; I've heard several different stories. Local law enforcement apparently doesn't post police reports online, other than for traffic incidents, so we'll have to wait for legal proceedings.

Whatever: He's our guy. Dissident Right doesn't leave its wounded on the battlefield. A funding site has been set up for his medical and legal costs. I've donated, and I hope you will too.


Alt Right rising.     It's getting to be a cliché at AmRen conferences, but it's a happy one: The attendees get younger every year. Scanning the conference hall on Saturday I saw a couple of guys who prompted the thought: "How did they get here? They don't look old enough to drive."

The blogger Z-man attended this year's conference, his first ever, and wrote a very good three-part diary (here, here, and here) about it. From Part I:

The age of the crowd was the first thing I noticed. There were many people there in the under-30 age bracket. There were lot of guys in their 40's and 50's too. The average age was probably early 40's and there were quite a few women in attendance.

Later, in Part III, Z-man contrasted that with the protestors, as seen through the conference hall windows.

I was standing in front of the big glass windows watching the Antifa loonies, when I turned and looked at the young AmRen guys taking pics and selfies, laughing and enjoying themselves. On one side of the glass were grotesquely out of shape people in grubby clothes, smoking and gesticulating. On the other were young men in suits, well groomed and composed. It was one of those times when you can stand on the timeline of your life and see the past and the future at the same time.

Indeed. Something's happening here, and it's a privilege to be a part of it. I only wish I'd been born fifty years later.


The uselessness of Conservatism, Inc.     I not only got to meet Z-man for the first time ever, but also Audacious Epigone, who is out there with Steve Sailer at the front of the pack of Alt Right quantitative bloggers. (Of whom there can never be enough. Numbers are of the essence.)

Audacious is the getting-younger cliché incarnate. He looks way too young to have as much worldly smarts as he shows in his blogging.

At an after-conference private gathering, our own James Kirkpatrick — who, notwithstanding he describes himself as "a Beltway veteran," I personally would card if he tried to buy beer in my checkout lane at the supermarket — gave an eloquent talk full of insights about this.

The meeting was private so it would be naughty to quote at any length, but James did say that among young, politically-engaged people he knows, Conservatism, Inc. has next to no market share.

Why would they have any market share? Conservatism, Inc. has accomplished nothing. Heritage, Cato, AEI, NRI … all that scholarly lucubration, all those millions in funds, and Conservatism, Inc. couldn't even pass Health-Care Reform. Our borders are wide open to anyone that cares to stroll in, American citizenship counts for nothing, the Afghanistan war is in its sixteenth futile year, and they're fine with it all.

Why would any patriotic young person support these arm-flappers?

Did any of them, with all their overflowing treasure chests, contribute anything to last year's election victory? If they did, it must have been inadvertent: they all hated Trump.

Something's definitely happening. The tawch has been paahssed …


A great living American.     I can't leave the topic of July's AmRen conference without a deep bow of respect to Jared Taylor, who founded AmRen.

As the Z-man wrote, and as I said at the beginning of my conference presentation, Jared has been pressing on doggedly with his project — white advocacy, race realism — for a quarter of a century now, through innumerable difficulties and setbacks, and against a stiff headwind of opposition from the dominant culture — including, of course, Conservatism, Inc.

Now all that labor is bearing fruit. This year, for the first time ever, Jared had to turn people away; the conference center was just not big enough for all who wanted to attend. My advice to Jared would be to think ahead some and book Yankee Stadium for the 2020 conference.

Success couldn't happen to a better man. I've been saying for years that if our civilization survives, there will one day be statues to Jared in public squares all over the country.

Congratulations, Sir. Onward and upward! Excelsior!


RV-ing with the Derbs.     The Derbs actually made a vacation out of the AmRen conference.

This was a consequence of last year's vacation, when we spent two weeks in the Far East. Toby, the Hound of the Derbyshires was parked in a doggie hotel for the duration. It was the first time we'd ever done that. In previous years we'd had my daughter or neighbors come in and feed him; but in 2016 no-one was available.

The doggie hotel was pretty nice. The living quarters were graded from "apartment" to "penthouse" (no kidding). Guests were fed, groomed, played with, and encouraged to socialize, all on a scale of fees, of course.

We'd set Toby up with a nice mid-range suite and playtime, but he was deeply unhappy without us and wouldn't eat. "We did our best," said the staff, "but he just wouldn't." When we picked him up after the vacation, Toby was a bag of bones.

This much distressed Mrs Derb. She swore we would never again go on vacation without him. Me: "Honey, there's only a very limited number of vacations we can go on with him." She: "You're the master vacation planner. Figure something out."

So for this year's vacation we rented a small RV (this one) and spent a week driving it down to Tennessee, taking in as many national parks as we could on the way.

It was a first RV experience for both of us, and a very positive one. Those things are complicated and confusing at first; and yes, dumping out the tanks is a chore (although not as unpleasant as it's made out to be in that sappy Robin Williams movie). Once you're familiar with all the systems, though — it only needs a couple of days — RV-ing is a lot of fun.

Montgomery Bell State Park, where AmRen holds its conferences, has an RV park within it, so that's where we stayed for the weekend of the conference. It made an interesting contrast with the other RV parks we stopped at along the way. Most of the people we met in them were older types — often Florida residents who can't take the heat down there in summer months.

Montgomery Bell RV park, on the other hand, was teeming with young children, with very few geezers in evidence. I don't know the reason for this. It was nothing to do with the conference; so far as I know, none of the other conference-goers were RV-ing it.

RV-ing was a new world for us, and we enjoyed it. I was feeling like some kind of pioneer until an email exchange with an old friend who had moved from New York to Arizona a couple of years ago. He threw cold water on my pioneer spirit: "It's a very Western thing, Derb. Out here, I believe we are the only family in our street that doesn't own an RV …"


Learning from the Big Man.     Prior to our setting out on this vacation, telling friends that we would be driving down through the Appalachians, the first thing everyone told us — after the obligatory Deliverance jokes, that is — was: "Take plenty of bug repellent."

We did, but it didn't help. Didn't help me, I mean. Mrs Derb apparently holds no interest for insects. Her blood (I tell her) has no flavor. Me, they devour. They bite, and my body reacts furiously to them. This is a recent development, connected in some way to my leukemia, which does weird things to the immune system.

My basic philosophy on minor physical afflictions is to not let them prevent you doing things you want to do. I enjoyed my vacation, and damn the bugs.

I did find myself thinking about Jomo Kenyatta, though.

Kenyatta was the first Prime Minister, and also the first President, of Kenya after that country won independence from Britain (which happened in 1963). He was a typical African Big Man: swaggering, ruthless, politically astute, and corrupt as all get out.

The reason I've been thinking about Jomo Kenyatta is his fly whisk. It was the Kenyatta trade mark. When you saw pictures of Kenyatta — which we did a lot in early-1960s Britain as the independence negotiations ground on — he was generally brandishing a fly whisk.

I'm thinking maybe I should get one of those things. You can buy them on Amazon (is there anything you can't buy on Amazon at this point?) although they are surprisingly pricey — and that's without the jewels that adorned Kenyatta's.

It's not just for vacations that I want a fly whisk, either. On my daily walk with the dog here at home in Long Island we pass through some streets with a lot of trees and bushes. In high summer, tiny little insects come out and buzz around my head. I don't think these are biters, but they're mighty annoying.

I've been using my hankie as a makeshift fly whisk. (Yes, I'm one of those reactionary diehards who still carries a linen hankie in my back pocket.) Why not go for the real thing?

I'd be grateful for opinions from readers on this before I shell out $44.45. Would a fly whisk be an absurd affectation for a middle-class American? Would people think I am gay — any more, I mean, than they do when they see me fluttering my hankie around?


Gissing in Calabria.     Among my reading on the vacation/AmRen trip was a lovely old — I mean, like a hundred years old — edition of George Gissing's 1901 travel book By the Ionian Sea, gifted to me by a friend who knows my fondness for Gissing. It's a small book — 193 pages in this pocket-sized edition — and one of Gissing's less well-known works.

The book records Gissing's travels in Calabria (the "toe" of Italy's "boot") in 1897. This region was settled by Greeks in antiquity, then taken over by Rome in the late Republic, then incorporated into the Roman Empire, then became part of the Ostrogothic Kingdom after Rome's fall, then was invaded successively by Byzantines, Saracens, Normans, and others. Oh, it's also prone to earthquakes.

So Calabria's seen interesting times. Gissing knew all about it. He had early in life developed a passion for the Greek and Latin classics, and his imagination never strayed far from those lost worlds.

The Calabria of 1897 was a dilapidated stinking dump, though, populated by sickly peasants, scowling inn-keepers serving indigestible food, and arrogant corrupt officials.

That's the fun of reading the book: Gissing's immensely knowledgeable reflections on the ancient glories he associated with every place he went, contrasted with the squalor he saw.

So:

I took my ticket for Cotrone, which once was Croton. At Croton, Pythagoras enjoyed his moment's triumph, ruling men to their own behoof. At Croton grew up a school of medicine which glorified Magna Graecia. "Healthier than Croton," said a proverb; for the spot was unsurpassed in salubrity; beauty and strength distinguished its inhabitants … After the fall of Sybaris, Croton became so populous that its walls encircled twelve miles. Hither came Zeuxis, to adorn with paintings the great temple of Hera on the Lacinian promontory; here he made his picture of Helen, with models chosen from the loveliest maidens of the city. I was light-hearted with curious anticipation as I entered the train for Cotrone.

He arrives at Cotrone's best hotel:

No one appeared to receive the arriving guests. Feeling very hungry, I went into the room at the end of the passage, where I had seen a tablecloth; a wretched lamp burned on the wall, but only after knocking, stamping, and calling did I attract attention; then issued from some mysterious region a stout, slatternly, sleepy woman, who seemed surprised at my demand for food, but at length complied with it.

Table service was the least of Gissing's problems. Croton may have been "unsurpassed in salubrity" back in 700 B.C., but Gissing came down with malaria. He was close to death at one point, but recovered and continued his journey.

Travellers were tough in those days. I'm ashamed of myself for grumbling about a few bug bites.

I can't leave Gissing without quoting Dorothy Parker's lines.

When I admit neglect of Gissing,
They say I don't know what I'm missing.
Until their arguments are subtler,
I think I'll stick to Samuel Butler.


Poet seeks privy.     One more on the literary beat.

In last month's diary I had a note on the 18th-century Russian poet Derzhavin. The note included this, which I'd had from a reader.

My father, whose knowledge on such matters is exhaustive, thinks the poet from Sonya's party [i.e. in Yuri Trifonov's 1976 novel The House on the Embankment] was likely a composite sketch, but his convention-flouting quip "where's the bathroom" was a clear homage to Gavrila Derzhavin.

I diligently looked up Derzhavin in my Penguin Book of Russian Verse, but couldn't find a bathroom reference. "What did Derzhavin have to do with bathrooms?" I asked Diary readers plaintively.

A different Russian reader filled me in.

Mr Derbyshire: On the question of Derzhavin and bathrooms, it is a reference to the following excerpt from Pushkin's memoirs.

"I saw Derzhavin only once in my life but shall never forget that occasion. It was in 1815 at a public examination in the Lyceum. When we boys learned Derzhavin was coming, all of us grew excited. Delvig went out on the stairs to wait for him and kiss his hand, the hand that had written 'The Waterfall.' Derzhavin arrived. Derzhavin entered the vestibule, and Delvig heard him ask the janitor: 'Where is the privy here, my good fellow?' This prosaic question disenchanted Delvig, who canceled his intent and returned to the reception hall. Delvig told me the story with wonderful bonhomie and good humor."

Hey, even poets have to go to the bathroom.


Liu Xiaobo, RIP.     Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo died July 13th, to the everlasting disgrace of China's thuggish government. He died in hospital, but still surrounded by secret-police goons.

My friend the scholar Andrew Clark — who, in the matter of being steeped in knowledge of the classical world, could give George Gissing a stadion for his money — wrote a memorial poem:

Presser on Mt. Olympus

It was a bit of liver trouble, longstanding …

                The eagle, every night …

—That eagle brimmed with positive energy.
Why, they played badminton together!
The bird used its wing as a racket.

                Chained upon the rock …

—According to law.

                Such a waste.

—Prophylaxis. Chaos if our mountain falls.

                It was a gift of fire.

—So-called fire.
Who wants it? No one wants it here.
Show me one person here who wants it!

        [A long silence. They stare at each other.]

                       A. E. Clark
                       July 13, 2017


Math Corner.     Yet another depressingly young death to record, this one from disease.

On July 14th, the day after Liu's passing, we lost Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman to win a Fields Medal (the "math Nobel Prize"). Professor Mirzakhani died in a hospital in Stanford, California, after yielding to complications arising from breast cancer. She was only 40 years old.

I'm not competent to judge Prof. Mirzakhani's work, but friends who are so competent assure me that her Fields was not an affirmative-action stunt. The lady deserved it.

She joins a short, sad roster of high-rank female mathematicians who died young, or at any rate not old: Sofia Kovalevskaya (41) and Emmy Noether (53), most notably. Gibbon gives the impression that Hypatia of Alexandria was a comely young maid when she met her gruesome death (as likewise does C.W. Mitchell.) In fact Hypatia was in her fifties like Noether; but that's still not old.

To turn you from those sad reflections, here's a brainteaser. It's an old chestnut, but well worth recycling now and again.

Does √(1+2√(1+3√(1+4√(1+5√(1+ …))))) have a finite numerical value? If so, what is it?