Daniel Taylor: Death Comes for the Deconstructionist
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Revisited

What Happened In the 1960s?

NOTE: the essay itself has been removed for the moment. Explanation later.

As some readers of this blog know, I've written a book which is part memoir and conversion story, part cultural history of the phenomenon we call "the Sixties." I have a certain amount of evidence that the attempt is not really successful. It's too long, for one thing: somewhere around 130,000 words, which makes it comparable in length to The Seven Storey Mountain (a book which I thought too long when I read it--so why did I think I could make one of equal length interesting?) I have a version which chops out most of the discursive social-philosophical-religious stuff, leaving something that's basically a memoir, and kind of a so-so one in my opinion. It's doubtful that either is going to see the light of publication day. 

In the first version, there's a long chapter which is a sort of bridge between my life up until I left home for college, and my plunge into the '60s cultural revolution. It attempts to describe the forces that made the revolution happen, the conditions in the mid-'60s which made many of us who were growing up at the time join that movement. I cut it out entirely from the second version of the book. But I think it's a worthwhile reading of those times and the way they led us to this time. So I cut it down by several thousand words, removing personal stuff, and leaving something that I hoped might interest a magazine.

Well, that didn't work out. I shopped it to half a dozen magazines and got no interest. So: one reason for having a web site in the first place is that one can publish whatever one damn well pleases. I've now posted the essay here, not as a blog post but as a standalone page. You can get an idea of what it's about from the original title: "The Tube, the Bomb, and the Closed World." Those are three of the factors I hold to have been of great importance in producing the revolution. The third one refers to the metaphysical closure of the Western mind over the past couple of centuries. As I say in the opening of the essay, understanding the phenomenon of "the Sixties" is important to understanding the culture war which it set in motion.

I should warn you that it's just under 4000 words long, which is rather lengthy for online reading. (The close approximation to 4000 is not an accident: that's the maximum acceptable length for articles at one of the magazines I sent it to.)


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Well, that's a bummer. I had really hoped that the book would see the light of day at some point, as I felt it was important and had a unique take on that era. I'll read the essay with interest, however.

I have an idea about the essay -- I've sent you an email.

Thank you. Publication of the cut-down version is a possibility--I'm talking to a publisher who is at least interested. Someone (:-)) said the longer original was really two books, which suggests I didn't do a good job of merging the two aspects. At any rate I tend to agree that it's too long, and I found that I couldn't really preserve that dual aspect while cutting it significantly.

I could be charged with being too negative in saying that the shortened one is "so-so" as a memoir. I say that in comparison to, say, Mary Karr's first one, which is a brilliant and vivid narrative that mine can't compete with. But I'm not so modest as not to think it's as worthy as some recent memoirs that have gotten attention, e.g. Sohrab Amari's fire and water book (I can never keep that title straight).

I think I may have mentioned this book before, but one of the more interesting memoirs I've read over the past few years is Charles Fish's In Good Hands. He weaves the personal material and the commentary together in a very attractive way, but the book only runs to 250 pages or so, and I'm not sure, really, that someone could pull that sort of thing off for much longer than that and still keep it interesting for the general reader.

I don't remember your mentioning that before. Looks interesting.

When I was writing that first version I was very conscious that I was going to need a good editor. It's probably not a good idea to start out that way. :-)

Ooooh, very nice!

Glad you think so. I decided to go ahead and make the jump rather than fiddle and fiddle. I spent a while trying to get a link to recent comments from the navigation bar, because on small screens it puts that at the bottom, so you have to scroll a long way to see that list. But Typepad does not currently provide a way to do that.

I'll continue to tweak it. I just noticed the navigation links at the top are to the test blog so I need to fix that.

Oh, now I will have to look before I read more of my book.

Why don't I have time to do the things I want? Should I ever start working again, I will not be fooled by the false lure of a life that isn't busy.


"have to look"? You should be seeing the new design whenever you visit the blog now.

"Why don't I have time to do the things I want?"

I've been asking that question for most of my life. It used to have a fairly straightforward answer--because I am solemnly obligated to do this, that, and the other instead. For instance, hold down a job. But now that I'm 85% retired*, the question comes back pointedly. "Well, I don't know. Why *don't* you? You have all this theoretically free time.

*I just had reason to check how many hours of paid work for my old employer I did last year and it came to about 8 weeks.

I'm on a laptop and for some reason the text in this new layout is harder to read. A different font? Or longer line length maybe, less space between the lines?

A very different font, definitely. Sans-serif vs serif is the big difference. It's actually larger than the old one, so it's not the size. I keep thinking it may be a little too big, actually. Whether one finds sans or serif easier to read is pretty much a personal preference, I think.

The line length varies with the size of the browser window, which the old one didn't. That's part of the "responsive design", as they call it. So you can resize your browser window to get a line length that's comfortable for you.

I'm pretty sure there's actually more, not less, space between the lines. Maybe it's the line length that's giving you that feeling.

Oh, I was confused. I thought Rob was talking about the essay.

I think I am going to l iij ke the format when I get used to it.


Well, yeah, the essay's okay too. ;)

Personally I like serif better, but this is quite readable nevertheless. Maybe it is the font size that helps.

I notice that when actually typing in the combox the font is somewhat smaller, however. Don't remember if it was always that way.

The combox font does seem to be a point or so smaller. In the old design the combox font was sans-serif, so it looked pretty different. I'm not sure whether it was the same point size as the text font or not.

I just applied the old design to the test blog:


So if you want to directly compare them you can. Notice that the column widths never change with the browser window size. That's the single biggest difference with responsive design. Well, one of two: the other is only displaying one column at a time on small screens. That's how a site can be made much more readable on phones and tablets.

I actually prefer the old design from an overall aesthetic point of view. But it's really pretty horrible on a small screen. I'm not necessarily attached to this font or to sans-serif in general. So you may see that changing from time to time. If you're interested, here's a discussion, one of many easily found, of the state of the serif-vs-sans debate:


Looks good, Mac!

Glad you like it.

By the way, in case you've missed it, the barely-useful Search function is missing. That's by choice. I'm going to try to set up a Google search for it although I'm not sure if I can integrate it with this design. I sort of hate to do that as I've been avoiding Google products, but it's really frustrating to have a Search function that at best only half works.

I try to only "half work" myself, so that seems perfectly reasonable.

I hadn't thought of it that way. Excellent point.

I always search your site like this:

[Whatever I am looking for] site:lightondarkwater.com

That works. But it's sort of a pain.

Thanks, Robert.

I got to wondering what would happen if I put my name in those brackets. When I got to page 27 on Google, it got boring. Well actually, it was boring long before that.


You don't actually need the brackets.

I am a person who requires boundaries.


Happily, then, [ and ] are adjacent on the keyboard (usually) and don't require the shift key. Though that doesn't apply if you're on your phone.

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