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Scott Seward Smith

Scott Seward Smith is based in New York City. He has spent much of his political career working on Afghanistan for the United Nations. Red Line Blues: The Passion of Owen Cassell, Closet Conservative is his first published novel.

Revealing ‘The Great Amputation’ of Postmodernism’s Triumph

I Wanna Get Anagogical

The most important piece of writing of the past decade to me is an article written last year in Modern Age by Ewa Thompson, “The Great Amputation: Language in a Postmodern Era.” It is important because it identifies the key to our modern stupidity.

This stupidity is increasingly irksome in the way that it has seeped into political decisions that affect our lives. Thompson’s discovery is even more profound, however. She explains one of my great frustrations: when we have literally at our fingertips the entire record of the greatest thoughts of human history, why do we not use them to help solve our problems, understand each other better, or merely delight in the play of genius? Why, furthermore, do we in general not contribute to them? Why are we becoming sub-literate? As Thompson writes: “words are losing their power to convince, console, and elicit joy.” As someone who takes literally Faulkner’s injunction that man is immortal because he alone among animals has an inexhaustible voice, the disempowering of the word is a matter of grave significance.

Discovering Luis Miguel, Mexico’s Biggest Star Musician

When I was 21, in 1991, I fell in love with a Mexican girl. It was the week of our college graduation and she was the childhood friend of a classmate. I visited my classmate in Mexico City that summer in order to see her again. The hit album at the time was “21 años” by Luis Miguel. Luis Miguel, named for the bullfighter Luis Miguel Dominguín memorialized by Hemingway in The Dangerous Summer, was, and still is, the biggest star in Mexico.

Lana Del Rey’s Blues

In the many skirmishes in today’s culture wars I often find it easy to take a side or, in most recent cases, wish that both sides lose. This is mostly because these skirmishes involve celebrities and other cultural avatars who are two dimensional, predictable, boring. The last eccentrics died long ago or have been pummeled into submission.

Recently I stumbled across a controversy involving a young woman singer, Lana Del Rey and, of course, an internet post, that has left me on the fence. Apparently Del Rey has been accused of glorifying or romanticizing sexual violence in her songs. On Instagram she wrote…

‘What Realm of Supreme Values Will Be Capable of Uniting Europe? Technical Feats? The Marketplace? The Mass Media?’

Europa Europa

Some weeks ago, before the lock-down became tortuous, my beautiful niece asked me to write her a short story about a man who is left at the altar by the love of his life. She was turning twenty and this was the present that she wanted from me. Maria and I have played these literary games since she was a teenager. I love the fact that though she is a child of her time, and fully conversant with social media, she also likes to read and write.

The short story was an opportunity to play with a plot I have been imagining for sometime: a somewhat lonely, young courtroom artist who gets involved with a woman that he paints during a trial. I have thought of doing a novel where the woman is involved with a drug-smuggling gang.

Welcome to Hegel’s Apartment

A new series of essays on culture and philosophy from Liberty Island literary novelist Scott Seward Smith

Nietzsche mocked Hegel by saying that the latter thought Western civilization had reached its pinnacle in his Berlin apartment. Being forced to spend more time of late than usual in my New York apartment, I’m kind of with Hegel. My wife and I, regrettably, have no children. Our apartment is spacious enough for us. We are not only comfortable but happy in the space we have created. I am surrounded by my books, photographs, some works of art. A few months ago I bought a CD player in part to listen to a Great Courses set of CD’s on understanding classical music. Western civilization may not be at its pinnacle in my apartment but I get what Hegel felt and what Nietzsche mocked.

Chapter 1 of Red Line Blues: The Passion of Owen Cassell, Closet Conservative

Discover Scott Seward Smith’s new literary novel!

Pick up Red Line Blues: The Passion of Owen Cassell, Closet Conservative by Scott Seward Smith, now available on Amazon.

On Conservative Antiheroes

In Defense of the Flawed Protagonist

In her Political Writing 101 column here on the Liberty Island website, Jamie K. Wilson argues that conservative writers “need to unashamedly embrace the epic hero”. “I get tired of antiheroes.” she writes. “They are the damaged and suffering heroes that SJWs wish they could be.”

I thought of this advice in light of my own forthcoming novel from Liberty Island, Red Line Blues: The Ballad of Owen Cassel, due out in November. My hero is clearly not an epic hero. He is much closer to the “damaged and suffering” heroes that Jamie disdains. I sat down to write my novel with a particular purpose: to challenge the prevailing sense in mainstream culture that someone with conservative views cannot be complex, let alone cultured. Conservatives are always corrupt, ignorant, and bigoted. If they have some redeeming features to them, they become liberals in the end (like Scott, in Woody Allen’s “Everybody Says I Love You”, whose conservatism turned out to be the result of a brain tumor). Thus was born Owen Cassell—an alcoholic, divorced, disillusioned lapsed Catholic and failed professor, who is nonetheless highly intelligent, charming, well-traveled, and sensitive. His problem is that he falls in love with a younger woman who is liberal.