Reading Auster's writing at first, my thought was "Wow, he's different". It wasn't neocon BS. It was writing with eyes open to the reality of the society we lived in after the OJ trial verdict revealed that stew that people had conditioned themselves to forget that was bubbling underneath a poorly sized lid. I liked laughing at the jokes in Jonah Goldberg's columns and enjoyed his light approach, but Auster was serious, sharp and knee deep in our decline. This was also the period where I started reading Houellebecq. Auster's view of the post-1968 changes in American society creating an upheaval, that from a long term view, is still fresh and messing with long standing traditions that built the world's greatest civilization was a breath of clean air. As recently as 30 years ago, the things people now take for granted, accept and consider normal would have been considered an infamnia. Currently in 2013, we see writers on both the left and right discussing societal decline, but in 1999, the bridge to the 21st century, millennium good vibes were everywhere in Western media. I only exchanged a couple emails with him and nothing was earth shattering. I disagree with him on some things, but his writing made me think differently about many topics. His analysis of our world usually taught me something. Other times, it made me not feel alone.
Auster's sharp eye is used for the serious and the amusing. His approach to pop culture pieces is even entertaining. A recent one made me chuckle but struck at the core of an issue that I had never considered. Auster did a post on Kim Kardashian and her "astounding", "amazing", and near perfect hourglass figure. I laughed at the comedy of Mr. Auster finding and analyzing her, as well as tipping his hand on the type of female figure he liked. Within that post, he conveyed the idea that we live in an age where everyone thinks that they can create their persona, life, and image by whatever means necessary for whatever ends they wish. To piggyback on that thought, in our age of social media and technology, we have our material self and our digital self. Our digital self is not just who we are on different platforms but the controlled bits of information that we allow others to see. Our online self can be as fake as Cher's plastic shell of a body. We craft a persona to display to the outside world. This blog is no different.
I'll miss Lawrence Auster's writing. Will I try to learn from his work? Yes. Will I tell more people about the VFR Archives? Definitely. Will they wonder why he never installed a comments section? Absolutely. As more eyes become open to the sickness around them, it would be wise to have them read the words of a brilliant writer for what is right. If they read through the years and get towards the end, they'll learn something else. Recently, Auster has also revealed how to face death with grace. Reading his posts as he has handled his cancer has also been a nice display of how a person can face their mortality with dignity. While his posts are controlled, constructed expressions and not off the cuff conversations, it is comforting to see that people still can approach death in the opposite manner of our scared of aging and scared of death society.