Origins

Election Day 1998

The wizard, to tell the truth, never minded explaining his cleverness more than once. –J.R.R. Tolkien

When I was younger, I had a theory that books never really got going until chapter three–the first two chapters were solely to introduce setting and characters and so forth. Well, I’ve since discovered that that isn’t always the case, and it certainly hasn’t been for The New Rambler. Having jumped right in to the picture in the first two issues, I shall now draw back briefly to give everyone a clearer view of the background, in the hopes that this will seem a bit less like blobs of paint and a bit more like a Monet (hey, if I don’t set my sights high, who will?)

Some of you are new to The New Rambler with this issue, for various reasons (I had misplaced, misspelled, or otherwise misplaced your e-mail address), and some of you don’t even know me, but little birds, or something told me you might be interested; the back issues which you’ve missed will follow shortly.

I started The New Rambler to save my breath. I feel like I spend every day of my life expounding to people about the things I’m angry about (and there are a lot of them), and that can get tiring. I thought maybe if I just wrote it all down and sent it out, that would help. The epigraph for today’s issue is my family’s favorite line from The Hobbit, and it’s true that I share (and possibly epitomize) our tendency to tell people about how clever, or how right, we are, and to make sure they all know it. In that light, The New Rambler is no better than a soapbox (a soapbyte? soaplink? soapsite?), but I’ve gotten enough positive feedback on it to gather that people don’t feel it’s a terrible soapbox, or a terrible idea. But beyond a simple desire to keep from going hoarse, what inspired The New Rambler was remembering several things from a course I took on the Enlightenment. At that time, prior to the whole of the Model T, the whole of the 19th century, the French Revolution, and all that rot, Denis Diderot and some other folks spending too much time in too many Parisian cafes and salons, drinking way too much coffee (kinda like college students, come to think of it), decided to write an encyclopedia, an encyclopedia whose purpose was, in their words, “to change the general way of thinking.” I can’t claim that The New Rambler is an encyclopedia, or that it will change a whole lot–but as I’ve always said, if you’re gonna dream, dream big. In that light, also, I chose the oh-so-original name of this periodical in honor of another fine 18th century gentleman (and my great hero), Samuel Johnson, who for a number of years published his Rambler essays to make some money and expound a bit on his views. I can only hope he isn’t turning in his grave.

Thanks for reading.

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