October 31st, 2009

A blast from the past: my normblog profile

[NOTE: In response to some queries on this thread, I went back to look at an interview I gave four and a half years ago, towards the beginning of my blogging career. On reading it, I decided it might just be fun to reprint it here, after all this time.]

The normblog profile 79: neo-neocon

Born in New York and now living in New England, ‘neo-neocon’ spent her formative years collecting degrees from various fine academic institutions. She likes to read and then sit around and think (or walk on a treadmill and think), but hasn’t yet figured out a way to make a lot of money doing that. She is a generalist and synthesizer – in other words, a jack of all trades and master of none. ‘neo-neocon’ has been (and in some cases, still is) a social science researcher, writer, editor, ballet teacher, law school graduate, theatre critic, marriage and family therapist, wife, mother, gardener and friend. She blogs at neo-neocon.

Why do you blog? > The moment I found blogs I was drawn to their energy, intellect, wit and camaraderie. After a while it seemed I was spending so much time in the comments section of various blogs that I thought I might as well start my own.

What has been your best blogging experience? > Being a recipient of the kindness of other bloggers. Discovering I actually have a few readers who appreciate what I have to say.

What has been your worst blogging experience? > Exhaustion. I had no idea how much time it takes.

What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > I am a novice blogger. ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ – keep it short and punchy.

Who are your intellectual heroes? > The Founding Fathers; Orwell; Primo Levi; Newton; Darwin; Einstein.

What are you reading at the moment? > I wish I had more time to read. Next up – when I get a free decade – is William Shirer’s The Collapse of the Third Republic: An Inquiry into the Fall of France in 1940.

What is the best novel you’ve ever read? > Do you ask a mother to choose her favourite child? Too hard! But one of my favourites is the story/novella Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter.

What is your favourite poem? > ‘The Lost Children’, by Randall Jarrell, an extraordinary poem about parenthood and the passage of time.

What is your favourite movie? > The subtitled version of The Emigrants and its sequel The New Land, by Jan Troell. The most beautiful movies ever.

Who is your favourite composer? > Chopin.

Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you’ve ever changed your mind? > That’s one of the main themes of my blog: the post-9/11 transformation in my political thinking from lifelong liberal Democrat to independent/social-libertarian/Bush-voting/neocon. The realization that the Enlightenment’s continued existence is not assured, and that it is currently being threatened both externally and internally.

What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…’ Not only very wise, but beautifully stated, like poetry.

What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > The idea that, because total and complete truth can’t be known on this earth, all truth is therefore relative and all truths personal and equal.

Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Eleni by Nicholas Gage. A step-by-step depiction of the process by which movements beginning in idealistic fanaticism can end up destroying themselves and nearly everything in their paths, and an emotionally shattering but unforgettable story of the power of maternal love.

Who are your political heroes? > Presently, any ordinary Iraqi policeman. Historically, Churchill.

What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > ‘Democracy is the worst form of government except all those others that have been tried.’

If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > Put an end to gerrymandering.

What would you do with the UN? > Tell it to get out of Dodge, because I think it’s corrupted beyond repair. That’s sad, because I grew up revering the UN, visited it many times as a child, and loved the idea of an organization working for world peace (not to mention those magical simultaneous translation headphones).

What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Generosity of spirit, love of life.

What personal fault do you most dislike? > Sadistic cruelty.

What, if anything, do you worry about? > Anyone who knows me knows that this is something I do rather well. I am quite eclectic in my worrying habits.

Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > On the ocean in any beautiful place, but it has to have at least four seasons. Hmmm – sounds like New England, after all!

What would your ideal holiday be? > Having a driver take me around the Italian and French countrysides, stopping in every little town along the way and exploring at my leisure – and, of course, hitting all the pastry shops.

What do you like doing in your spare time? > Being with friends and eating any sort of ethnic food. I also admit to the secret vice (not so secret anymore, I guess) of watching American Idol.

What talent would you most like to have? > To be able to sing – especially opera. To have that big rich effortless full-throated sound come out of my mouth.

Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > I liked Richard Pryor when he was in his prime, and also the classic early Saturday Night Live crew.

Who are your sporting heroes? > That one’s easy: Arthur Ashe.

Which baseball team do you support? > Easier still. I’m a rabid member of Red Sox Nation. Last season was wicked awesome, as we say here in New England.

If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for? > That the whole neocon project actually succeeds, and that democracy really does spread and lead to greater amity among nations and less tyranny.

If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Churchill, Lincoln, Dorothy Parker. Think of the jokes, think of the stories!

10 Responses to “A blast from the past: my normblog profile”

  1. SteveH Says:

    I agree with you about the poetry in the declaration of independence.

    I’m betting even non english speaking persons who hear that and the 23rd psalms instinctively know they’re listening to something powerful and majestic.

  2. Stphnd Says:

    Do you have a best beloved Chopin work neo-neocon or are there too many too well beloved to pick one favorite?

  3. expat Says:

    We would make good travelling companions. I love to poke around the next corner in a strange place. Stumbling on a great eatery isn’t bad either.

  4. neo-neocon Says:

    Stphnd: You know, I was just listening to some Chopin the other day and thinking about that. I have so many favorites it would be a long list. I might write about Chopin at some point, though (nice change from all the political brouhaha).

  5. Stphnd Says:

    Please let me encourage you to do just that at whatever length you choose when you find the leisure and inclination, neo-neocon. I find I’m often alerted to hear things I have missed and thus learn from listening to others express their musical enthusiasms.

  6. Nolanimrod Says:

    I visited NYC right after graduating from HS in Tucson, AZ in ’68. New York! The Met, the library, the Metropolitan Museum! The Opera! The Empire State Building!

    And it was those damned headphones that really wowed me.

  7. Nolanimrod Says:

    P.S. And the cops doing baton-twirling with their billy clubs.

  8. camojack Says:

    Sounds like someone I’d like to meet. :-)

  9. rafinlay Says:

    Is there anything you would change, looking at it years later?

  10. LDOTR Says:

    Neo, I enjoyed seeing your personality come out in your answers to the 20 question About Me section.
    I have in the last week begun a blog of my own and am also a mental health professional, who in tune with the traditional separation of doctor/patient professional relationship from personal life such as blogging am having mixed feelings about running a blog as an anonymous author. But for the moment that is how I plan on handling it. I will see what I can feel comfortable with though in terms of getting some of my personality/personal interests, etc to be apparent and maintain an identity that isn’t overly impersonal even though remaining anonymous.

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About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.


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