Just ahead of Episode Eight of our current Tale for Our Time, a word from your host:
As I predicted a year ago, things are getting real bad real fast on the free-speech front - in America, Britain, Canada, Europe, and the rest of the west. In the land of the First Amendment, the national government is openly demanding social media abridge the speech of those the administration deems guilty of "misinformation". North of the border, in a climate where "problematic" stories such as mass church-burning go unreported by Canadian media, Justin Trudeau is determined to shrink public discourse still further and restore Section Thirteen. Across the pond, West Midlands Police arrest twelve-year-old boys for "unacceptable" Tweets. The full-scale merger of Big State and Big Tech proceeds apace. I would like to think we'll still be here in a year's time, but looking at the ever swelling ranks of the disappeared, who knows?
In such circumstances, I thank all of you who keep this l'il ol' website and its various activities part of your daily rounds. I so miss the Internet of yore - before the woketalitarians imposed one-size-fits-all "social media" on the planet and buggered the thing irredeemably. It was one of the things Kathy Shaidle and I talked about the last time I saw her - and, as Kathy saw it, that freewheeling Internet of the turn of the century won't even be remembered. History will go from the gatekeeper legacy press of the Times and the Post to the thought-commissars of Big Social's woke billionaires with nary a mention of the brief interregnum.
We stagger on nevertheless.
In such a world, it is hard to read Jack London's Burning Daylight and not mourn the loss of the great boundless societal energy he conveys so well. In today's episode Daylight is thinking big:
"You-all think gold-hunting is the only way to make a stake. But let me tell you-all that when the big strike sure does come, you-all'll do a little surface-scratchin' and muck-raking, but danged little you-all'll have to show for it...
"But the men that land big will be them that stake the town sites, organize the tradin' companies, start the banks—"
Here the explosion of mirth drowned him out. Banks in Alaska! The idea of it was excruciating.
"Yep, and start the stock exchanges—"
Again they were convulsed. Joe Hines rolled over on his sleeping-robe, holding his sides.
"And after them will come the big mining sharks that buy whole creeks where you-all have been scratching like a lot of picayune hens, and they-all will go to hydraulicking in summer and steam-thawing in winter—"
Steam-thawing! That was the limit. Daylight was certainly exceeding himself in his consummate fun-making. Steam-thawing—when even wood-burning was an untried experiment, a dream in the air!
"Laugh, dang you, laugh! Why your eyes ain't open yet. You-all are a bunch of little mewing kittens..."
Daylight had vision. His scope had been rigidly limited, yet whatever he saw, he saw big. His mind was orderly, his imagination practical, and he never dreamed idly. When he superimposed a feverish metropolis on a waste of timbered, snow-covered flat, he predicated first the gold-strike that made the city possible, and next he had an eye for steamboat landings, sawmill and warehouse locations, and all the needs of a far-northern mining city. But this, in turn, was the mere setting for something bigger, namely, the play of temperament. Opportunities swarmed in the streets and buildings and human and economic relations of the city of his dream. It was a larger table for gambling. The limit was the sky, with the Southland on one side and the aurora borealis on the other. The play would be big, bigger than any Yukoner had ever imagined, and he, Burning Daylight, would see that he got in on that play.
We always get a lot of queries about the music we use for each Tales of Our Time adventure. But it usually requires a few stabs in the general territory before even expert musical types get it right. Not so this time. Step forward, Jay Brown, a First Month Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club from Florida:
Wonderful choice of music for your audio reading of Jack London's Burning Daylight. The character's self-confidence is very well expressed in the equally self-confident main theme of the first movement of Carl Nielsen's Third Symphony. The particular recording you've chosen has the theme's closing statement well stretched out unlike many otherwise good performances. Love to know which orchestra and conductor you chose.
Well, I'll hold off on that for a few more episodes if you don't mind, Jay, in part because it took a bit of light editing to achieve the effects you note - and I can tell you for certain that this particular conductor would not have approved of that. As longtime listeners will recall, we used Nielsen's marvelous Søvnen (Sleep) as the theme for my reading of London's best short story "To Build a Fire", and the words and music were so eerily attuned to each other that, ever since, I've tried to match London's northern stories with something appropriate from Nielsen. In this case, the composer wrote his Third Symphony round about the same time the author was writing his novel.
Thank you again for all your comments, thumbs up or down, on this latest tale. Very much appreciated. If you'd like to know more about The Mark Steyn Club, please click here - and don't forget, for fellow fans of classic fiction and/or poetry, our Steyn Club Gift Membership.
I'll see you back here tomorrow for Part Nine of Burning Daylight - and throughout the coming week for more audio and video delights.