I’m sure I have something more important I should be doing instead, but now that I have started today with the “crunchy” business, I will write one more post. Goldberg accuses Rod of being “quirky” and making what you might call an “argument from quirkiness.” This is simply wrong, and it is getting tiresome that Goldberg thinks he is contributing something with this one-note song of his:
I’m sure you don’t really disagree, but in your rush to prove the authenticity of your domicile you sound really, really quirky to a lot of us. Quirkiness is good. Quirkiness is valuable. Quirkiness is fun. Why, right now I’m wearing a very quirky hat. But quirkiness is not a foundation for a political philosophy or even a conservative “sentiment” nor is it sufficient grounds to condemn those who don’t subscribe to your definition of the good life. A conservative philosophy or sentiment creates room for quirkiness, not the other way around. “The nature of man is intricate,” wrote Edmund Burke, “the objects of society are of the greatest possible complexity; and therefore no simple disposition or direction of power can be suitable either to man’s nature or to the quality of his affairs.”
Quirkiness means strangeness of habit. So, in one sense, the life that Rod describes would seem quirky to someone living the conventional life he criticises. Stable, centered and rooted lives might well appear eccentric to people living fragmented and dispersed lives, but that does not mean that they are actually eccentric. There is the very real possibility that Goldberg and many others are so far removed from where they should be in life that many aspects of the good life appear bizarre and foreign to them (probably the way that, say, Lenten fasting appears to most modern Christians, even though some form of serious Lenten fasting was at least obligatory for most Christians until fairly recently and represents the rule and not the exception). The seeming bizarreness of Rod’s way of life in Goldberg’s eyes is not an argument in favour of Goldberg’s argument against the “crunchies.” It only makes Rod’s argument for him as to how alienated from the permanent things the Goldbergs of the world have become.
To this Goldberg will probably only shout, “Narcissism!” But it is not the “crunchies” who are quite so obsessed with self-image in this sense (the book, especially the chapter on homeschooling, is replete with quotes from the various “crunchy” exemplars about how they no longer care what other people think), and that is what really bewilders so many of the critics. They seem to be saying subliminally, “Why aren’t you crunchies more concerned with what we think about your way of life? Why won’t you submit to the conventional attitudes and accept the roles that we have accepted?” If they look carefully through the book once more, they will find the answer to those questions.