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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fred Reed, Internet's greatest curmudgeon, is retiring (for now)

This is a sad day for the very many of us who have faithfully followed the "scurrilous commentary" of Fred Reed. The renaissance man behind Fred On Everything announced yesterday that he is ending his regular columns, owing to upcoming surgery for a corneal transplant (as Reed puts it "this being the belated result of a largely forgotten foray by the US into military adventurism").

Reed shared his reasons for beginning his web-based column, and he speaks for many of us in conveying the biggest reason why a lot of us do this, in whatever way we can. He also admits some inevitable frustration with it all...

"My reasons for inditing the sucker were, first, to see whether a web column could work and, second, to get away from the strangling grasp of political correctness. A third reason, common I suppose to most columnists, was the hope that, however minor my voice might be, in combination with thousands of others it might engender pressure for slowing the rush into the high-tech medieval twilight that the culture has undertaken.

"This by now is clearly quixotic. The civilizational changes we now see are both irremediable and beyond control. The peasantrification and empty glitter of society, pervasive hostility to careful thought, onrushing authoritarianism, and distaste for cultivation are now endemic. I do not know where these lead, but we are assuredly going to get there. Fuming buys nothing."

As with everything else he has written that I've read over the years, it's a great essay. Our thoughts and prayers go out to him, and here's hoping that the Internet's best curmudgeon and best-known expatriate will be back in the saddle sooner than later :-)