For a number of years I have read the opinion pieces of a writer known only as “Spengler” in the Asia Times Online. I enjoy his wit and his tight reasoning on many topics. “Spengler” has now revealed that he is David P. Goldman, the new associate editor of First Things. I am glad to see Mr. Goldman coming to First Things, but I confess to sadness that “Spengler” is no longer a mystery. As bloggers know, a nom de plume can take on a life, and a character, separate from the keyboarder who creates it. The substance of the writing of course remains, and that is most important, but a certain element of fun dies when the writer behind the assumed name is revealed.
That is not to say that the essays of “Spengler” are not well worth reading. A good one to start out with for those who have never read him is this one from December 8, 2008 with the title Benedict XVI Is Magnificently Right. I agree with “Spengler”, more often than not, but I always learn something from him, whether I find the instruction congenial or not.
“Spengler” of course is a reference to Oswald Spengler (1880-1936), a German who wrote a huge treatise on the study of civilizations as they wend their way through history, The Decline of the West. Parts of it are fascinating, and parts of it are so sleep-inducing that I truly, no joke, recommend it as a cure for insomnia.