On The Bedside Table

I just got finished reading William Faulkner’s LIGHT IN AUGUST. An interesting, meandering telling of various lives in motion and what that may have meant to the people who led those lives. I’ll have to read it again sometime.

Right now, I’m rereading Gerald Suster’s HITLER AND THE AGE OF HORUS, which I may talk about later. I’ve read it several times, and it supposedly the occult history of Naziism. But i’m also reading Zora Neale Hurston’s MOSES, MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN. I like Hurston, and read THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD late last year because, well, because it was there. Because I found an essay about her at Lewrockwell.com (where I write an occasional column) and thought that, since my wife had a copy (among her feminist literature), I ought to give it a read. I like Hurston, a lot. She manages to pack a great deal into very little language. More importantly, unlike most of her feminist author sisters in the 1960s and 1970s, she understands the fact that men and women do love each other. She understands how they love each other. She puts it into words well, too.

MOSES is not quite that kind of book. The writing style is not so intense. Hurston definitely comes across as someone who doesn’t much like government. I love the way she has Moses consider state power. This is a conversation between Moses and Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, sometime before Moses is called to free his people:

“Those people, I mean those Hebrews, need help, Moses. And besides, we could convert ’em, maybe. That really would be something — a big crowd like that coming through religion, all at one time.”

“I don’t say it wouldn’t. But I don’t want to be the preacher. I’m through trying to regulate other folks’ business. There ain’t no future to it at all — just a whole lot of past. If you find a cow stuck in the mire, and pull her out, she’l hook you sure. I just want to practice up on all this new stuff I learned [magic].”

“Get them folks out of Egypt and use them to practice on, why don’t you?”

“How am I going to do that, Jethro? Pharaoh is getting too much benefit out of those Hebrews. He wouldn’t let them leave. And another thing, why should they trust me? They don’t know anything about me. They wouldn’t believe I meant them any good. They wouldn’t follow me.”

“You could try. It would make a mighty big man out of you, Moses, if you did. You could even be King if you wanted to.”

“I don’t want other folks’ property enough for that.”

“You wouldn’t have to call yourself a King. You could just sort of rule along without taking on the title.”

“Jethro, it’s not the title I am afraid of, it’s the thing itself. It makes no difference what he calls himself, kind or ruler, who sends young mean out to be killed and takes the people’s cattle away from them. Titles ain’t nothing but nicknames.”

The book is full of this kind of thing. She understood what Caesar — I mean, Pharaoh — was all about. She had no illusions. World needs fewer people with illusions about what government truly is.