There’s a note trending now among forty former practitioners of public diplomacy, each one narrating zany experiences in the field from the glory days from when the United States “did” culture overseas. Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, and others went at great personal and financial sacrifice to serve their country by charming publics in hostile nations, and freeing the human spirit in ways that transcended political differences. They were great heroes, yet to be replaced as we seek to tweet ourselves out of the Islamic State and Putinism. Long may our efforts live, and all power to the tweet if that is what strikes people’s consciousness, really.
We know that William Faulkner used to chart out his drinking binges on the calendar. Faulkner was America’s Proust. His Nobel Prize acceptance speech in 1950 was possible only through the connivance of his family, who X’d out dates on the calendar and deceived him to think it was a week later than it really was. This is good urban myth but I take it as true. December 10 he gave one of the most memorable of Nobel speeches, speaking of “the ding-dong of doom” in an age of nuclear proliferation bringing humans to the brink of annihilation.Read More