On this day in 1907, Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell was born. He is a good object lesson in how political the conservative judicial movement has become. Richard Nixon nominated him, even though he was a Democrat. He was considered a moderate at the time, but today, he would probably be more liberal than everyone on the court other than Justice Ginsburg. The liberals on the court have become moderates and the conservatives have become neanderthals.
The actor Adam West is 85 day. People mostly know him as the title character in the TV series Batman. The show really works compared to very serious superhero movies of today. It was ridiculous and it relished that fact. Of course, West is quite a good actor with a very long resume. But in recent years, he’s shown himself to have a really great sense of humor in shows like Futurama and Family Guy where he is a regular. At this point, I don’t think there is an American actor more beloved than he is. Here is a collection of bits from the 1966 Batman:
Other birthdays: columnist Mike Royko (1932); Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein (1934); Righteous Brother Bill Medley (73); songwriter Paul Williams (73); singer Twiggy is 64; and comedian Jimmy Fallon is 39.
The day, however, belongs to the great novelist William Golding who was born on this day in 1911. He is best known for his bestseller Lord of the Flies, which is unquestionably a great novel. But I think people trivialize the novel when they see it as being about children and socialization. The book is really about our natural instincts as adults. What takes place on that island is what goes on every day between the nations of the world. It also goes on in a less drastic form between individuals. Think about the primal scream therapy session that is Fox News. That is all about taking sides and proclaiming that we are the good, true, and noble ones and they are the bad, invalid, and debased ones—the barbarians at the gate. As we see in the book, anyone can be drawn into the hysteria of killing the weak—or even the very best of who we are, as in the murder of Simon. Our only hope is to not allow demagogues to control us, but my experience in life is that we are addicted to the rush these evil leaders provide. And sadly, there is no navy officer to save us.
Golding wrote a number of other novels as well. But with Lord of the Flies as his first, you can imagine. As a result, I haven’t gone out of my way to read him. However, I did read his third novel, Pincher Martin. Although it is a fine, even great, novel, it made me long for the light hearted content of Lord of the Flies. The book is kind of like Simon’s hallucinations of the Lord of the Flies, but with a character you really dislike. But that shouldn’t stop you from reading him. After all, how many times can you reread Pride and Prejudice?
Happy birthday William Golding!