Thursday, August 30, 2012

Jewel of the Summer List

Recent comment here drew attention to endlessly seductive pleadings of the present heirs of two of England's more impor-tant country estates, and it is only natural to admire now a slender volume which traces the intricate but pleasingly irrevocable right of trespass, in effect, enjoyed by Englishmen through vast portions of these titled tracts.

We observe a bilious celebration of tracts of truly smelly selfishness this week in the United States, dis-reputable when they were published 4 generations ago and now so putrid as to draw only racist, nativist and misogynist theorists of the divine right of capital to attach itself to beasts. I refer, as I reasonably never thought I would have to do in adult-hood, to Friedrich Hayek's pathetic Road to Serfdom and Ayn Rand's second fattest masturbation guide, Atlas Shrugged. We are pretending that a candidate for our second highest office is a thinker and courageous, because he adores these texts.

In this hard week for the sharing of Nature's patrimony in the United States, it is amusing, pleasant and refreshing to pluck Sinclair McKay's Ramble On: The Story of our love for walking Britain from Heywood Hill's Summer List, and rusticate in the quietly unspoken 17th Century Commonwealthman roots of this nation's own commitments to a shared bounty, which it would unreasonably flatter these new Republicans to damn for forgetting. A book of humour not requiring someone to endure pain, a book embracing the land without having to rape it, on a pastime of human strengthening without having to exclude, is not likely to be read aloud this week in Tampa, Florida. 

But this is a keepsake of a reality, not a fantasy, of great charm, historic heroism, and inspiring infusions of invigorating air, terrain and vistas befitting the bedside of a republican Horace would recognise. Every chapter is a jewel of an excursion stripping vanity from the enthusiast, a toning of the sensibility that no ideology of ownership can confer. The republic of belonging, known to Horace's planter, Constable's shepherd, Clare's wanderer, and Woody Guthrie's Everyman is the defining entitlement which has distil-led these new Republicans into a cabal of irrational wrath against the rambler, the American Motor their candidate begs us to forget. Who will?

Sinclair McKay
Ramble On
Fourth Estate, 2012©

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