A Point in Time

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Be not troubled, for all things are according to nature and in a little while you will be no one and nowhere. – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

People usually associate David Horowitz, former radical leftist and founder of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, with the intellectual pugilism that has made him the nemesis of the left, in books such as Indoctrination U: The Left’s War Against Academic Freedom and Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left. But his new book A Point In Time caps an unofficial trilogy of lyrical meditations that began with The End of Time, then progressed through A Cracking of the Heart. In his latest, he uses the works of Marcus Aurelius and Fyodor Dostoevsky as starting points for his own intimate reflections on meaning and mortality.

Mark Tapson: How does this new book relate to your previous work?

David Horowitz: Most of my writings are engagements in the battles of our time. They are books designed to defend free societies in the face of the assault the left has mounted against them. I have written books to support individual rights and therefore property rights, and racial tolerance, and to uphold intellectual standards and intellectual freedom. My new book has a different inspiration, and in that way is a kind of sequel to another I wrote in the wake of 9/11.

A month after the Islamic attacks, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which brought me up against the wall of my own mortality. I was fortunate enough to survive this round in a war we are all destined to lose, but it changed the way I looked at myself and the world. It caused me to step back and take in our human predicament, and to think about how we address it. The book I then began to write about these matters was different in both substance and tone from the other books I had written. I called it The End of Time. It was partly memoir and partly a reflection on what I had learned.

My new book, A Point in Time, is also partly memoir and partly reflections. It attempts to look at who we are as transient actors in all these dramas, and to consider what they mean to us. It is a summing up of what I have learned over the course of a lifetime.

The subtitle of this book is “The Search for Redemption in this Life and the Next,” which is the way I sum up the escapes we attempt from the no-win situation that mortality imposes on us. Our quests for happiness, for fame, and especially for a “better world” are efforts to distract ourselves from the fact that our lives are meaningless, and that life is meaningless, and that one day all our achievements and all of the achievements of mankind itself will disappear and be forgotten.

MT: You begin by describing your daily interaction with your dogs and horses, and return time and again to them in the book. Why did they serve as inspiration and points of reference for the meditations in this book?

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  • tarleton

    I can strongly identify with David , coming from a somewhat similar background and yet , i'm a little surprised and puzzled by some of his comments such as how people are no happier than 500 years ago ?….if you have no sense of gratitude you may be right but i've found through a process of trial and error that gratitude is the secret of happiness …a kind of by -product of gratitude and one of the benefits of reading history is to compare our lives to folk who lived in the past and coming to the obvious conclusion of how easy and pleasant our lives are compared to theirs…each time I do that mental comparison , comes gratitude and a bi-product of JOY

  • tarleton

    David touches on some interesting issues such as human narcisism …there is great wisdom in the bible in a ''read between the lines '' kinda way ….the problem with secularism is made clear in the 20th century political religions of communism /nazism etc turning into cults ….the Bible warns us in Genesis of these very same dangers in the metaphorical story of the ''fall ''in the garden of eden …the serpant tempts Eve with the apple of knowledge ….''bite into this forbidden fruit and YOU TOO CAN BE A GOD ''

    • Questions

      I don't want to be a God. It's enough simply to be human. Unfortunately, religious extremism, like radical "transformational" ideologies like Communism and Nazism, have a way of denying people their humanity. The great achievement of the 20th (and 21st) century is that more of us than ever before get to live long and prosperous lives.

      • tarleton

        You may not want to be a God , but to paraphrase Trotsky , ''war is interested in you ''…it does seem clear that the secular radicalism of the 20th cent is the very same religious radicalism of the 16th in secular form …I can well imagine Hitler as a radical protestant , burning with the zeal of the converted , in reformation europe …or Heincich Himmler as an organiser of the St Bartholomues Day massacre ..or maybe Felix Dzerzinsky as the head of the Inquisition…Lenin as a type of Jan Huss ?
        Mau's Red Guards or Pol Pot's fawning minions all seem to have been bitten by the religious bug and like any other mass psychosis/religious revival , it takes time for these hysterical events to burn themselves out and sober up

  • tarleton

    The British Historian Michael Burleigh seems to be onto something with his books on the French Revolution and it's 20th century heirs in SACRED CAUSES
    His thesis seems to be that the human mind is ''hardwired '' to belive in a God , regardless if God exzists or not , and this religious impulse has been chanelled into secular political religions in the modern world , resulting in a political religion of class in the S U and religion of race in Nazi germany that I find very convincing …..both religions/cults were promising heaven upon earth with a utopia of class in communism and a utopia of race in volgemeinschaft …both had their holy sybols , holy books , prophets, saints , missionaries and crusades against the infidels

    Or as Eric Hoffer would say …beware the true believer in relious OR secular form …GOD wills it ! Allah Akbar …the Party requires It , or simply EIN VOLK

  • Amused

    Ahhh , noithing like the musings of cynics and religionists , they have my pity .Both have widely missed the message .The only thing man is "hardwired " for is SURVIVAL .All the rest is a result of man's honesty with one's self , as the conclusions through reason , objectivity , truth ,and reality are reached .Obviously the conclusions differ wildly among men , as is readily seen, literally everywhere . World views and staus quos are a direct result of such conclusions , as well as all the misery and death that inevitably follow .
    Blessed is the man who can think for himself , independently of all that surrounds him .And one who does not need a threat of death to see clearly .

  • tarleton

    the religious impulse or'' hardwired'' to believe in a God IS a survival atribute…it's the human minds reaction against the randomness , cruelty and meaninglessness of life …a craving for meaning , desire for a bodygard ,father figure or insurance policy .
    It's probably a natural evolutionry mutation that happens with the rise of intelligence

    It seems to be in our very DNA and is not going to disappear, …if it is repressed, it reappears in another form ….the best we can hope for is to try and manage , tame and control it , like some type of psychosis

  • xlent

    Sure a lot of "deep thinkin goin on heah" What is the problem with Jesus just being who He claims to be. Seems like a lot of "rational reasonin" to splain away the truth because the truth makes usins responsable.

    • johnnywoods

      Very good xlent. These guys are really "bringing me down" with their philosophy.

  • mrbean

    We are one of a multitude of forlorn creatures existing in a very brief moment of time in a chaotic universe and we shall have come and will go as though we had never been.

    • johnnywoods

      Mrbeam I am so glad that there is a better existence for Christians than what you are espousing here, but you have a nice day anyway.

      • mrbean

        Organized religion in any form is a best a blatantly dishonest attempt at explaining our origins, presence, and destiny as a species who reside on a tiny planet in a ordinary solar system rotating around a medium size star on the outer arm of a common spiral galaxy that is but one of hundreds of billions of galaxies containing billions upon billions of stars and trillions of planets, Instead you offer up a homosexual leader of a homosexual cult with grandiose illusions of himself who plotted and schemed his own death as a comprehensive view of existence. George Carlin knows better! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeSSwKffj9o

        • johnnywoods

          You sir are a fool.

  • H.P. Lovecraft

    The human race will disappear. Other races will appear and disappear in turn. The sky will become icy and void, pierced by the feeble light of half-dead stars. Which will also disappear. Everything will disappear. And what human beings do is just as free of sense as the free motion of elementary particles. Good, evil, morality, feelings? Pure 'Victorian fictions'. Only egotism exists.

  • Amused

    haha . nobody learns , children lost in the dark . too bad these things will determine how you live your lives . getting it right in old age is hardly any consulation . I sometimes wonder , because the answer is so simple , is that why so many miss it . People feel they need "education " , religion ,a certificate as it were , or worse – approval .
    Are we "happier " …what a foolish question ….a sign of confusion . Philosophy ? no , that's just part of the illusion . Egotism ? everyone has an ego ,[and that is only because we are social beings ] but everyone is not an egotist .
    And BTW-Lovecraft , matter cannot be destroyed , it merely changes it's form .