By contrast, private interest has always had a large stake in the cultural policy of the United States. Before the establishment of the NEA, arts and culture support remained the project of urban elites, business communities, and institutional philanthropy. Not the glorious nation, not the government. When the government did eventually intervene, it supported artists through passive systems like tax exemption for cultural organizations, and of course for the donations of their wealthy patrons.
Considering all this history—why do we wonder at the state of things?
For some reason, there was an awkward silence over dinner that night. My father looked at me for a long while and then spoke…
“Son, don’t you think it’s time you stopped reading fiction?”
Even now, I remember those words with a dull ache in my chest.
Books were a beautiful thing, my only source of joy in a gray world I did not understand — a world full of bullies where I ate lunch alone. Suddenly, books and stories were no longer acceptable. The real world was waiting.
It was time, time to become useful.
The writing itself meanders, chasing tangents and thoughts in a way that could easily be annoying, but with Shatner's gentle charm and curiosity, it finds a balance. There is a sense that you're sitting on a porch with an old horseman, listening to him muse about the horses he's known, the falls he's taken, and the memories he's made.
What use is knowing anything if no one is around
to watch you know it? Plants reinvent sugar daily
and hardly anyone applauds. Once as a boy I sat
in a corner covering my ears, singing Quranic verse
after Quranic verse. Each syllable was perfect, but only
the lonely rumble in my head gave praise. This is why
we put mirrors in birdcages, why we turn on lamps