Bob Shore made the following comment: "I am more than a little mystified by the total lack of comment [in ed.] the latest blogs regarding the momentous news items, one of course being the extremely important Geneva agreement between P5 + 1 and Iran, and the other the extraordinary statement of Pope Francis regarding the alarming growth of inequality between rich and poor. Surely both these events are far more deserving of comment at this time than squirrels or the differences between Baroque and modern string instrument bows." [For some mysterious reason, the comment is listed as having been made by Unknown, but since Bob signed his name, I figure it is all right to respond to him directly.]
Bob is of course right that the recent agreement with Iran and the statement by the Pope are both vastly more important than my light-hearted comments about the animals I see on my walks and the nature of the bows used by violinists in a French docudrama about Bach. Good grief. How could they not be more important? The weather on Thanksgiving is more important than either of those topics! So why do I spend time commenting on unimportant things when important things are happening?
First of all, a reminder. A blog is a web log, which is to say, a personal log of thoughts and experiences launched into cyberspace rather than entered by hand in a leather bound book. I do not pretend to be running an Internet newspaper, or even an Internet journal of opinion. I write about what I see on my morning walks because it amuses me to do so, and I hope that it will amuse someone else as well. I write at length about the thought of Marx and Kant and Hume and Plato and Kierkegaard and Weber and Durkheim because I know something about those things and enjoy setting forth my understanding of them as clearly and precisely as I can. I write about American politics because I care deeply about what happens in this country and hope, after a long lifetime of engagement, to be able to say something that others will find useful or interesting.
I try, by and large, not to write about even very important matters about which I am really ignorant, Middle Eastern politics being a case in point. On several occasions I have linked to or reproduced the superb and deeply knowledgeable discourses on these topics by my old friend William Polk, whose lifetime of practical experience and study make him supremely qualified to talk about the subject.
I have actually been meditating on making a comment on the Pope's recent discourse on inequality, which I find interesting and suggestive. Whether it will prove important remains to be seen. I had thought to talk about its relationship to Latin American Catholic social gospel or liberation theology from which the Pope's comments seem to emanate, but the truth is that although I am vaguely aware of those subjects, I really do not know much about them, certainly not enough to say anything very useful.
I have already commented in this space about the absurdity of obsessing about the possibility that Iran will "get the bomb" and "turn the Middle East into a nuclear zone" without ever mentioning that it is Israel that has a full-blown nuclear weapons arsenal and the delivery systems to accompany it. But although I have said that, I am in fact not knowledgeable at all about the complexities of Middle Eastern affairs, and beyond a simple observation or two, I do not have useful things to add to the public discussion.
One of my reasons for keying some of my discussions to books I have recently read, on biology or evolutionary genetics or even the use of information technology in political campaigns, is to indicate in that way the limitations of my command of the subject. When I am writing about something I really know a great deal about, like Karl Marx's economic theories, I feel no need to refer to the writings of other commentators because I am confident that my opinions will stand on their own feet.
So I shall go on reporting my wildlife sightings [and learning from knowledgeable readers the proper term for groupings of crows] and my experiences with the viola. I think a blog is the proper venue for such musings.