A TDAXP TRIUMPH
The intrepid Dan
secured a very revealing "must read" interview
with strategist and bestselling author Thomas P.M. Barnett
( posted in full
at Tom's website). A snippet:"7. Who else influenced you? Mentors I describe in PNM: Gaffney at CNA taught me the biz of studies and analysis, as well as an understanding of global politics; Cebrowksi taught me the military angle; Flanagan taught me the global economics. Other mentors and connectors throughout career made a point of introducing me to the right people and audiences for my material.
8. Who were your teachers and what influence did they have? Key teachers in high school encouraged my capacity for meta-analysis and my love of presentation. A key one: Mrs. Haley, who taught freshman history at Boscobel High School. Had a Russian teacher in college who taught me a lot about life and culture. Someone at U Wisconsin pushed to have me elected Phi Beta Kappa my junior year, which was big, because it gave me the pick of grad schools. At Harvard, Huntington was key in being first prof to recognize my big-think talent. Nye also gave me a lot of credibility by sitting on my PhD committee. Biggest influence on philosophy was Judith Sklar and her devotion to concepts of justice, tempered by a sense of realism regarding the role of security (she was a Baltic Jew who had fled the Nazis). Richard Pipes influenced me similarly (another Jew who fled). Finally, Adam Ulam was biggest influence (another Jew who fled). So I guess while I never heard or read of this Leo Strauss that all the neocons refer to, I did get my share of strong moral compasses from European Jewish academics who fled the Nazis. But that makes sense to me, because WWII was the great moral turning point for a century I was born near the middle of (1962), so I grew up in its shadow in a really profound way. Being trapped in the Cold War, I worried that I would never get the chance to do anything similar to these great thinkers (I write this in PNM), but then the Wall comes down, we drift for a while, and then 9/11 makes things clear. Right now, Steve DeAngelis and Mark Warren are my big influences, both of whom take my storytelling skills and writing skills to new heights by connecting me to the right opportunities and stages."
One of the qualities that very creative people in modern times frequently lack is introspection, or at least a structured time or habit for doing so. Generally absorbed by their own ideas and projects as ends they too seldom stop to make a record of the creative process itself in a way that was common a century ago when diaries and daily correspondence left an abundant paper trail for historians. This is unfortunate both for the insights into creativity that are then lost and more generally for capturing the tenor of the times that diarists once did so well. It would be hard to imagine, for example, writing a history the Civil War without reference to Mary Chestnut
and George Templeton Strong
or mid-late nineteenth century America without considering Henry Adams
Take for example, J.R.R. Tolkien
who left behind not only a very prodigious collection of extant essays, drafts and notes about his writings on Middle-Earth but a considerable body of letters describing his feelings on the evolution of his mythology, regrets and stumbling blocks in the writing process along the way ( most of which has been edited and published by his son Christopher Tolkien
). Few writers or thinkers in the post-WWII era attempted such a serious or studied reflection, keeping diaries and journals fell out of popular fashion or were targeted by special prosecutors in the case of officials, but now the ubiquitousness of email and blogging is reviving that tradition. In the interview with Dan, Dr. Barnett specifically refers to blogging as the sounding board for his second book, Blueprint For Action
as well as the mysterious " Volume III" that is gestating."I’ve actually done more thinking on this in the last year than probably the previous 42 years combined. This is because I’ve had a huge number of transitions in the last three to four years (starting with 9/11), and the blog has allowed me a lot of explanation space for readers regarding my way of thinking. All of this introspection was pushed by my Dad’s death in the spring of 2004 as well, along with the adoption of our fourth child, and my wife and I heading into (and finally recognizing that status) middle age.All this recent thinking also dovetails with the evolution of what I hope will be the trilogy of my “Pentagon” books, with PNM being the system-level diagnosis, BFA being the nation-state-level prescriptives, and vol. III being the individual-level self-help guide where I hope to teach readers how to replicate my thinking in their daily and professional lives. So I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year compiling my own sense of how I accomplish this level and sort of thinking and speaking and writing. "
The salon (and perhaps soon, the think tank) has been replaced by the blogosphere, democratizing and invigorating intellectual life.