Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A few treasures.

One thing I hate about moving is the treasures that one has to leave behind, it's just not possible to move everything. Having lived for extended periods in five different countries and five states makes matters worse. I've been in the middle of the country, both coasts, and both Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Along the way things get left behind.

Just this weekend I picked up the last 15 boxes or so of items I had in storage a few hours away. Even with a large van to haul things this was my third trip to pick up things. And I've started digging through the boxes and boxes of books from my library—where I will put them I don't know.

But I was pleased to discover some items I had forgotten about or even assume were lost forever. Several were inscribed books that I thought I had lost. I was quite pleased to find the copy of The Passion of Ayn Rand, that Barbara Branden had inscribed to me in June, 1983. Oddly coincidental was that I had only spoken to Barbara a couple of hours earlier on the phone.

One book I assumed was lost forever was Freedom's Child by Walter Polovchak. That was 21 years ago. Walter was born in the Ukraine, which was then under Soviet domination. His family had immigrated to the US but Walter's father wanted to return to a mistress in the Ukraine. The Soviets said he could, provided his entire family came back with him. They wanted to use it the return as propaganda about how awful America was. Walter was then 12-years-old and said no. He did the unheard of, he defected. For the next several years Walter, with the help of supporers, fought attempts to deport him back to the Soviet Union. Eventually he turned 18 and got citizenship.

Walter wrote about his experiences and why he did what he did in his book but it wasn't getting enough attention, in my view. So I flew Walter out to the West Coast for a tour promoting the book. He stayed with me for a few days and spoke to around 100 people at a dinner I arranged for him. I had forgotten where the copy of his book was. I was pleased to find it inscribed: "Thank you for making all this possible. I had a lot of fun. Thank you and enjoy the book." I'm glad to have that back.

Another book packed away was George Smith's Atheism: The Case Against God, simply inscribed to "A good friend." I did once have a signed, first edition hardback of the book. Unfortunately I flew out of the country for a month of travel and left a Christian watching the house. Smith's book, which had been sitting next to my bed had vanished while I was gone. My Christian friend, or I should say ex-friend, denied knowing anything about the disappearance of the book, even though he was the only person who had access to the house during my absence, he was actually staying there and sleeping in my room while I was gone. I later discovered a few other items disappeared, which I knew he was quite fond of, as well.

Also among the batch was an inscribed copy of Wendy McElroy's book, XXX on pornography and censorship. Wendy has been a friend for a very long time now. I won't call her an "old friend" as she'll never forgive me. But long-term friend is appropriate. I found a few books by Thomas Szasz that he signed for me so those have gone on the shelf with other signed books.

Some books I found are merely books I would like to read again. A fascinating little gem I read some years ago is Moral Development: A Guide to Piaget and Kohlberg by Duska and Whelan. I have always thought that political philosophies could be spread along the stages of moral development, particularly those stages outlined by Lawrence Kohlberg. I've been wanting to reread this book just to give the whole matter a second thought.

I was happy to find Lord Samuel Brittan's A Restatement of Economic Liberalism because it contains a very important essay he wrote: Capitalism and the Permissive Society. I find that essay particularly insightful. Unfortunately this is not signed though I do have a copy of newest work Against the Flow, which he inscribed for me a couple of years ago when we met in Germany.

Another work I was wanting to reread was discovered today. That is The Wealth and Poverty of Nations by David Landes. It's a great book and worth reading several times over. I also found two books I wanted to read but never did. One is Francis Neilson's hard to find, The Churchill Legend. The second is Michael Kazin's biography of William Jennings Bryan, A Godly Hero. Also in the batch were several biographies of Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899), one of my favorite writers of all times. I keep a couple of Ingersoll's letters framed on display on the top of the hutch of my work desk, along with a note from Auberon Herbert (1838-1906) and a couple of photos, by Julius Shulman, of Ayn Rand taken in the house designed for Josef von Sternberg by Richard Neutra.

There are stills boxes and boxes to unpack. I can hardly wait.