Hope Ahead After a Year of Wretched Excess

Martin Sutovec, Slovakia

At the Cliff, it’s hard to separate perspective from wishful thinking, but is there no way left to go but down? The President is optimistic, but then again he usually is.

Where we are now recalls a three-pound doorstop from my brief career as a book publisher in the early 1970s when I oversaw “Smiling Through the Apocalypse: Esquire’s History of the Sixties,” edited by my departed friend Harold Hayes, who had fostered the New Journalism during that turbulent decade.

To dramatize how American society was breaking down and reconstituting itself, Hayes recruited novelists as reporters (Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal) and turned journalists into narrative writers (Tom Wolfe, William F. Buckley, Gay Talese, Nora Ephron).

In that period, one of the magazine’s wry categories of comment about the absurdities of public life was headed Wretched Excess, and it comes to mind now as I savor this century’s quirky equivalent of attempting to dive under the media surface of events and bring up buried treasure of insight, the Jon Swift Memorial Roundup 2012 (The Best Posts of the Year, Chosen by the Bloggers Themselves).

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Author: ROBERT STEIN

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