Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley, Jr.

Many of the conservative blogs and publications are discussing the passing of William F. Buckley, Jr. today. Certainly, he was a great man, his National Review magazine is a fantastic publication, and I will miss him. Without repeating a lot of what everyone else has said, he was a great intellectual force who unified a lot of us behind principles by showing how conservative ideas bring better solutions to the challenges facing us, and by showing how the ideas from the left are often destructive.

The best memories I have of Buckley are of his mastery of the English language. Yeah, sure, I’m a dumb engineer, but his attention to language is what has fascinated and inspired me. No matter what profession any of us may enter, knowledge of English, and I mean good English, will always be helpful. One particular memory I have is of a letter writer (and this may have been to the old Washington Star newspaper back in the 1970s). The person wrote in response to a Buckley column, and included the phrase “pleonastic to the point of being catachrestic.” Now don’t you love stuff like that? (He must have had a profound influence on society – the Microsoft Word spell checker did not flag any of that as unknown words!)

Well, a proper eulogy for Bill Buckley should include some sesquipedalian grandiloquent verbosity, but I will keep my farewell simple. So may he rest in peace (in pace requiescat?), and let us all build a better world, both with language and ideas, in his memory.