A while back, John Bloom (who's better known as Joe Bob Briggs of drive-in fame) came north to interview me for the current issue of the indispensable Aussie publication Quadrant. I was somewhat stunned to see the cover and find that yours truly and Cole Porter get better billing than Clive James and Marcel Proust. Be that as it may, Quadrant has now posted the full piece here.
Mr Bloom conducts interviews the old-fashioned way, with a reporter's notebook, and I have to say some of "my" quotes sounded a little odd to my ears as I read down. There's a Michael Ignatieff line from a few years back that I found so hilariously club-footed I put it in After America: Canada, wrote Ignatieff, is "the place on Earth that, if I needed one, I would call home". Gee, thanks a bunch. I quoted this line mockingly to Mr Bloom only to have him mis-attribute it to me - which is sure to come back to haunt me when I slip through to win the final round of this interminable Tory leadership election.
Nonetheless, there's much in the piece that readers may find of interest, including my views on why, as we see every day, cultural victories are more consequential than electoral ones. From the piece:
Steyn is a large man—above six feet, burly, with a fuzzy red beard that makes him look as if he should be handing William Wallace a halberd at Falkirk, not tinkling piano keys while sipping a Tom Collins—but then that's his whole point.
"What I've learned since 9/11 is that the small pleasures—music, theatre, film—have to be earned. In the Muslim world, there is no music. In Libya they [Isis] destroyed all the musical instruments—music was considered an abomination. When the demography changes, there will be no concert halls. Artists who take a multicultural view should be aware of this. Count the number of covered women in London's West End. In Birmingham, where I went to high school, you have a provincial symphony orchestra in a Muslim city—I'm not sure it will survive. All art, all popular culture, is endangered by Islam, because there's no room for it. It's considered libertinism. And I'm not even talking about Miley Cyrus twerking at the music awards. What turned Sayyid Qutb against the morality of the West is that he attended a church dance in Greeley, Colorado, which was a dry town in 1948, and he heard the song 'Baby, It's Cold Outside'. He thought it was evil."
The point about civilizational collapse is that it's a civilization that's collapsing, not merely your political arrangements. You can read the full piece here.
Speaking of Oz, if you haven't yet seen my interview with the former prime minister John Howard, we've posted it here. We cover the spectrum here at SteynOnline, from the flotsam and jetsam of the passing scene to the big existential questions, and despite a few setbacks since John Bloom's visit we intend to keep that going. I'm enormously grateful to all those readers from around the world who've signed up to become Founding Members of The Mark Steyn Club. A few hours ago, we had our first enrollment from the Solomon Islands, which has so heartened me that I'm planning a nationwide tour starting in the fall - all five island groups, culminating in a week of shows in Honiara.
As I explained when we launched the Club, Founder Membership isn't for all - but it's there to ensure our content remains available for all, out there in the world - in print, audio, video, from San Francisco to the Solomons. (I leave it to you to decide where it's needed most.) But one advantage membership brings is that you do get a crack at the comments section. So, if you want to hammer me for stealing Michael Ignatieff's all-time-great soundbite, then hammer away.
For more information on The Mark Steyn Club and becoming a Founder Member, please see here. We'll be introducing a new feature of the Club this weekend.
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