The text shown here is extracted from Todd Carpenter’s “Blogger Spotlight” interview with me. That post was much longer. In the extract below, I’m clipping out the Big Issues philosophy. The confluence of recent events — webloggers-at-war and the death of William F. Buckley — seems to have left us a little more open than we might otherwise be to new ideas. This is an exposition of the ideas that move me, in particular, my personal manifesto.
Todd Carpenter: One of my mottoes in life is that everyone has an ax to grind. I blog for money. Most RE agents blog for money in the form of clients. On the other hand, you don’t even have Amazon affiliate links attached to the books you recommend. What’s your ax to grind? Why are you doing this?
Greg Swann: In order that it might be done, and done properly. I don’t think I fit your theory about having an axe to grind. I may be as close as one can come in the modern world to being an actual Attic Greek, a doer for the sake of having done, a thinker for the sake of having thought, a poet for poetry’s own sake. People often accuse me of having ugly motives — which says a lot more about them than it does about me. But there is a sense in which you could say that I don’t have any motive for the things I do, none other than the doing itself. I like for things to be done. I like for them to be whole and complete and perfect and esthetically beautiful and mathematically elegant and philosophically sound. I work very hard on everything I do, and I can concentrate very intently on what I am doing, and I don’t like to do anything except what I am doing right now — but I love to do that completely.
One of the standards that I have set for BloodhoundBlog — not by precept but by example — is that we expect our visitors to rise to our level. I detest the whole idea of dumbing things down — simplifying, stupefying, catering to human beings as if they were infants — or imbeciles. I’ve lived my entire life in the avid pursuit of the highest intellectual values my mind can absorb, and I reject the idea that I should spit on and spurn those values in my social concourse with my fellow men. To the contrary, if I respect who they are and love what they can become, I owe it to them to give them the best of my mind, not some dumbed-down moronic masquerade.
If there is any extent to which I have an overarching motive, it is at a very abstract, philosophical level. If you read my posts in BloodhoundBlog stored under the category “Egoism in Action,” you can catch a hint of it by acclimation. I believe in the good as an abstract moral goal, but on a more concrete, practical level, I believe in doing better — better work, better thinking, better behavior — a consistent resolution and a persistent effort to do better every day at everything I do. I want this for myself — this more than anything — but I want it as a meta-goal for all of humanity, now and forever. We are rational animals, and we are best capable of splendor — untainted, fully-conscious jubilation — when we act as rational human beings. And we are most crippled by pain and doubt and guilt and fear and misery when we indulge our vestigial animality. At a certain level, everything I do is both an expression of and an argument for my idea of splendor.
You asked — and part of being who I am is a conscious refusal to hide things like this just because many people don’t want to hear them. I don’t believe that I owe anything to other people, but the best gift I can offer my fellow men is not to hide who I am. I am very far from being perfect, but I know from introspective experience and extrospective observation that my way of living is a move in the right direction. We’ve spent the entire course of human history cursing rationality and enshrining animality. This has not had happy consequences. I am not a missionary, but the fundamental nature of integrity is that every seemingly disparate thing is in fact a facet of the same one thing. The one thing I am is an Egoist, and every thing I do ends up expressing a very strident Egoist ideal as an inescapable secondary consequence. And, being who I am, I do love the symmetry and elegance of that expression.