Editor's Desk, March 2006


Raw panic. That’s what I felt after we’d published the previous two issues. How, I wondered dismally, could we ever top those amazing covers—the infamous “Muhammad cartoon,” followed by the notorious “BraThe New Individualist cover ngelina”?

I should have had more confidence in the creative talents of art designer David Sims, who produced the stunning “Muhammad” cover. This time, to showcase Stephen Green’s lighthearted tribute to “ B-Movie Individualis m,” David takes a nostalgic trip back to the ’50s with images inspired by such cheesy classics as “Earth Versus the Flying Saucers” and “Them!” Okay, maybe the imagery doesn’t have much to do with individualism, but even Steve loved the cover. And in his article, he finally offers philosophical rationalizations for loving movies that feature the visual splendors of exploding spaceships and Elle MacPherson.

On the serious side, classics scholar Bruce Thornton returns to these pages with another thought-stirring essay, “ Huck Finn and the Nuremberg Rally .” In Mark Twain’s beloved boy-hero, Dr. Thornton finds reassurance about the enduring individualism of the American spirit.

An exemplar of that spirit—and one of its most eloquent champions—is Dr. Walter E. Williams. The pro-capitalist economist, teacher, writer, and talk show host spent several sessions with writer Sara Pentz. The result is an interview so revealing and provocative that I let it run extra long. You’ll be delighted that I did.

I wanted to publish my review of Ayn Rand: My Fiction-Writing TeacherErika Holzer’s fascinating new literary memoir—in our previous, “celebrity Rand fan” issue. Alas, the deadline arrived before I could finish the book. I’m pleased to spotlight it here. The book is an education for any would-be fiction writer, and a special treat for fans of the novels of Rand and Holzer.

March 2006 -- What explains the creative genius of individuals such as Rand? Walter Donway reviews Nancy Andreasen’s The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of Genius , and reports that it offers surprising insights into the minds of scientists and artists. Meanwhile, his brother, Roger Donway, finds reasons for both celebration and concern in The Tycoons, Charles Morris’s study of 19th century business geniuses such as Carnegie and Rockefeller.

We lost another dear friend and colleague recently—the remarkable Madeleine Pelner Cosman . I pay tribute in this issue to this noble and amazingly talented woman, the like of whom I never expect to see again.

Aftershocks from the “Muhammad cartoon” controversy continue to reverberate through Western media and business interests. In my editorial, High Noon for Free Speech ,” I speculate about how Gary Cooper might have acted if confronted by menacing fanatics. Somehow, I just don’t picture Coop groveling before bullies, as did the suits at CNN, Borders Books, and Comedy Central.

Okay, all done. But now that this issue has been put to bed, I’m starting to panic again.

Time to talk to Mr. Sims about that next cover….

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