David Horowitz: Points in Time
An overview of one man and his work.
October 15, 2011 - 12:02 am
But in so doing he has achieved even more. He has created his own literary horizon both for himself and his readers, embracing past and present within its expanding circle. A Point in Time, like The End of Time and A Cracking of the Heart, positions the reader to see his work as forming a virtual tradition, which each new book recasts, re-orients, and partially transmutes. The previous work is, so to speak, backlit by the subsequent, creating an effect of textual and contemplative seamlessness. For as I’ve indicated, Horowitz has become his own inheritance and mythos, a literary institution in his own right.
The same can be said of the living archive which is Horowitz’s published oeuvre, the calendar of his literary achievements which tracks a developing itinerary. “I am impelled forward in my writing,” as he says toward the conclusion of A Point in Time. Every new book not only confers momentum on those to come after but is the result of those that came before, requiring us to re-evaluate the precedents under the sign of his latest contribution. When I go back to Radical Son or Unholy Alliance, for example, it is as if I’m now making the acquaintance of a somewhat altered David Horowitz, a writer who differs from the one I first met. I’m reading (or re-reading) the same books but they now carry a different valence, seem more layered and complex, enriched by an aura of personality I could not have originally intuited but which was always there, however subliminally. There is a sense of something evolving toward new insights and conclusions captured in every succeeding publication.
This is a unique experience one does not find in most other writers, accomplished as they may be, who either repeat a favored theme with new evidence to substantiate an argument or produce a series of eclectic volumes, recognizable as the product of the same author by the accident of name, thematic interests, stylistic quirks, and phrasal mannerisms. But with Horowitz there is a feeling of gradually accreting unity, a quality of the organic and holistic implicit in his work that renders it not merely consecutive but continuous. It is like an increasingly elaborate manifold. This is what I mean when I say that his work resembles an evolving order à la Eliot, a kind of self-adjusting literature in its own right.
When I first began reading Horowitz, I found myself thinking that I had come across an interesting writer. As I continued to read him, the impression grew that he was not simply an “interesting writer,” but a significant authorial force in the political and academic amphitheater. At this point in time, cresting with his latest works, I believe we must acknowledge David Horowitz as one of the major writers of the modern era. Although in his latest book the focus falls on Horowitz himself and his spiritual education, the subtitle identifies his most transcendent theme: “The Search for Redemption in this Life and the Next.” The audit and catechism proceed along the entire scale of human experience.
People may tend not to see this because they define Horowitz exclusively as a writer in a politically conservative mode or as a polemicist for a cause. But he is much more than that. He is, as I’ve suggested, something like a tradition in the making, as well as a fluent stylist and an authentic thinker who addresses the important questions of our existence across the gamut from the practical to the metaphysical. And in so doing, he has also built his own sustaining narrative.
What Horowitz has given us, then, is not only a series of notable books but, as I have argued elsewhere, a kind of wisdom literature in itself, changing and deepening with every new addition to the procession. A Point in Time will yield to other points in time, each signaling the next with inaugural premonitions and modifying the previous in novel ritornellos. Horowitz is one of those rare writers who are both memory and prelude, and we are lucky to have him.