Death of John Fowles

The New York Times reports the death of British author John Fowles. It may seem a bit macabre, but the Times' obituaries are often excellent articles in their own right, and this obit is no exception. It is worth reading.

I have enjoyed Fowles' writing (akin to Harold Pinter's), and now I have a better idea why. In discussing Fowles' upbringing, the Times notes: "Similarly, he recoiled from his role as head boy at Bedford School, his prep school. 'By the age of 18, I had had dominion over 600 boys, and learned all about power, hierarchy and the manipulation of law,' he wrote. 'Ever since I have had a violent hatred of leaders, organizers, bosses; of anyone who thinks it good to get or have arbitrary power over other people.'"

I have "dominion" over no one, and do not seek such power. Nonetheless, who could not relate to power as defined by Fowles? It is the endemic corruption of power to which Fowles drew his ire. The search for "leaders, organizers, bosses" who do not recklessly "manipulate" law is a lifelong search, for leaders and followers alike; one would hope that such leaders would reveal themselves more often.

Until such time (if ever) when such people are able to ascend to the ranks of true leadership, Fowles' words will strike a chord with me. On myriad of issues -- from balancing the Federal budget to addressing larger human failures -- they seem particularly prescient. These times of a preponderance of weak, and far too often irresponsible leaders seemingly intoxicated (or blinded by) by power sadly reflect Fowles' dismay.

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