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From the Pen of David Horowitz: November 8, 2009

November 8, 2009


In my life’s journey I have acquired, among other things, a public persona. As a result, strangers sometimes approach me bearing images of a self, lost long ago. In a recent spring, I spoke at a university in Connecticut, whose name I have forgotten. When my talk was over, a compact man with Irish curls and a snow-white beard came up to introduce himself: “It’s me, Johnny O’Brien,” he volunteered, foreseeing that I would not be able to recognize him. All at once, the eye of memory began daubing color into place, rusting the locks and deepening the freckles that time had faded, until I was able to identify the youth who had stood in front of me in the lines arranged by “size place” at the elementary school we both attended half a century before.

With the recognition came old feelings that reminded me of the fondness and frustration with which I had approached him when we were both so young. I recalled my desire to reach out to him and be his friend and also how we never did become close. When we had talked for a while, I asked him how he had regarded me then. “You were frightening,” he answered. “I was twelve and just trying to figure out who I was and what it was all about. But you already knew.” Of course, I did; I was already embarked on my father’s mission. “You had a certainty and a purpose,” John continued, “that was daunting in someone so inexperienced and young. It was as though you already knew what to think about everything, about who you were and where you were going. I sensed in you an indefinable contempt for those who were too ignorant to see these truths. It became clear to me that someone unanointed with such knowledge could never get near you. So I gave up trying.”

John’s father was a New York fireman with an eighth grade education, an immigrant who wanted his son to make good in a country where making good was a possible dream. John was able to fulfill his father’s ambition, becoming a classics professor and writing a noted book about Alexander the Great, with sources in seven languages. The life of his subject even resonated with his own, since Alexander was a man driven by the ambition to surpass his father. While able to dominate others, however, Alexander lost the battle with his own demon, alcohol. In John’s view, the god Dionysius was the “invisible enemy” who eventually brought down the greatest figure of the classical age. As John told it, Alexander’s story was that of a man who had conquered the world but in the end could not conquer himself.

The certainty that frightened John when he saw it in me was my Dionysian nemesis, my wine of denial fermented in the vineyard of my father’s dreams. At twelve, I was already intoxicated by my father’s mission, pursuing his hope and earnestly recruiting others to follow. In my memoir, Radical Son, I related how this fantasy undid me, and how tragedy had finally bled its arrogant presence from my soul.

The End of Time

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  1. Colette permalink
    November 8, 2009 3:07 am

    I want to read your book, have to go on vacation so I can find the time, along with the book of /for your daughter…I was taught as a child, Life is a series of lessons God would have us learn…… I am sorry for your loses, but thank you for our gain….. As a voice in the wilderness……We need you here!- God Bless You

  2. Michael van der Galien permalink
    November 8, 2009 3:52 am

    The development DH underwent is absolutely fascinating.

    • Colette permalink
      November 8, 2009 9:42 am


  3. John Davidson permalink
    November 8, 2009 5:33 am

    The very thought of those early years of riding the ferry across the Hudson River remind me of a time that offerred hope and tranquility, but now, only a fairy tale.

  4. Firebird #48 permalink
    November 8, 2009 6:42 am

    The open heart leads to an open mind.The conscious person
    walks upward from the steps of his past,realizing that we
    never stop growing…….if that is what we choose.

    • Colette permalink
      November 8, 2009 9:45 am

      Your statement reminds me of something my dad told me…
      Colette, You can’t climb a ladder stepping down….if you miss a rung, you’ll slide back down and have to start over again!….I’m over half way up my ladder in life, and thru faith, just as DH is doing, I am reaching for the sky- I wrote a poem about this for my granddaughters, and in honor of my dad…he died on Oct.2nd of this year….
      He’s with our heavenly Father now….RIP

      Shalom, Shalom

  5. November 8, 2009 6:55 am

    Bravo DH: Always interesting and thought provoking.

  6. jimdouthit permalink
    November 8, 2009 8:48 am

    I can relate to David’s comments about philosophical conflicts and life-changing events. I’ve experienced those things violently and lastingly. I don’t have David’s high intelligence or strength of character, but, like him, I’ve accepted TRUTH along the way when it pounded me in the head. I’m content about that at least. jd

    • Cas Balicki permalink
      November 8, 2009 12:51 pm

      I kind of think of truth as a wall you keep butting into, the wall never moves and the only pain it causes is when you butt up against it. Over time you learn to accept its shelter, if only to relieve the pain of butting up against that immovable wall.

  7. Gary Palmgren permalink
    November 8, 2009 2:45 pm

    I just wanted to says thank you for the book, “Radical Son” It was a great read and helped me understand a lot of what happened as reported by a monolithic news media during my childhood in the sixties.

  8. Bebe Target permalink
    November 8, 2009 5:04 pm

    In the sixties I subscribed to Ramparts . . . those magazines were still in my parents’ basement up to a few years ago. Those issues contained some of the best writing of that time and I was hooked on anything written by DH. As the seventies turned into the eighties, I morphed into a conservative. Then one day I read an article by DH and knew the same had happened to him. Radical Son is one of the best of its kind. What DH went through and lost because of his courageous journey is a lesson in greatness. David Horowitz may walk among us, but he is not like us. Mr. Horowitz is an exceptional man, a man of truth, honesty, integrity and courage. He is the kind of human being many of us aspire to be, but rarely ever make it to those heights. The people who are fortunate enough to meet him and do not recognize these qualities, will have missed the experience of knowing they have been in the company of a truly exceptional human being. Thank you DH, for all that you do for us, for our children and for our country.

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