The Fleeting Systems Lapse Like Foam

Welcome to the latest in our series of audio adventures, Tales for Our Time: This month’s pick is Jack London’s timely tale of a reprimitivized California, The Scarlet Plague. – and, as always, I thank you for your kind words about our opening episodes.

In tonight’s instalment, the old man is trying to explain the lost glory of the past – which is hard to do when your grandsons are barbarians:

Sometimes the memory of the past is very strong upon me, and I forget that I am a dirty old man, clad in goat-skin, wandering with my savage grandsons who are goatherds in the primeval wilderness. ‘The fleeting systems lapse like foam,’ and so lapsed our glorious, colossal civilization. I am Granser, a tired old man. I belong to the tribe of Santa Rosans… And you, Hoo-Hoo, are of the Palo-Altos. Your tribe takes its name from a town that was near the seat of another great institution of learning. It was called Stanford University.

But it is no more. And, as I put it in After America, for a dwindling number of wizened oldsters, such glories “half-linger in collective consciousness as a memory of faded grandeur, the way a 19th century date farmer in Nasiriyah might be dimly aware that the Great Ziggurat of Ur used to be around here someplace.”

Why should our re-primitivization prove any different?

Members of The Mark Steyn Club can hear Part Three of our adventure simply by clicking here and logging-in. Parts One and Two can be found here.

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If you’ve only joined the Steyn Club in recent days and missed our earlier serials (Conan Doyle’s The Tragedy of the Korosko, Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent, Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel, Anthony Hope’s The Prisoner of Zenda, plus Kipling, Kafka, Dickens, Gogol, Louisa May Alcott, P G Wodehouse, H G Wells, Scott Fitzgerald and more), you can find them all on our easy-to-access Netflix-style Tales for Our Time home page. Indeed, it’s so easy to access that we’ve introduced a similar format for the audio editions of The Mark Steyn Show.

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To become a member of The Mark Steyn Club, please click here – and please join me tomorrow for Part Four of The Scarlet Plague.

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