Saturday, April 25, 2009

Thaddeus Osbourne Dabell 1936-2009

During a recent trip to London, Thaddeus Osbourne Dabell died in his sleep.

Those who thought they knew T.O. often saw no more that an old cynic who outlived his time. Those who grew up in his company knew a man that was aware of a social and cultural change no lesser in scope and impact than the wave of technological changes that preceded it. He was also aware that one begat the other and greatly concerned that the current social and cultural transformation is the greatest threat this country has faced in its relatively short existence.

He knew first hand the role that technology played in dumbing down generations of Americans and often shared his concern that the average citizen's increasing lack of critical thinking and an intellectual context to reason about today's events is our democracy's Achilles' Heel. He knew that we have betrayed those who gave this country--gave us--that last full measure by abusing technology to foster hedonism over self-sacrifice and to substitute narcissism for character and integrity. He saw all too many young Americans choose permanent adolescence and was openly critical of the technologies and adults that encouraged them.

So it is no surprise that T.O.'s trip read was Bauerlein's latest book. It was a surprise, even a shock, to find that this blog even existed. We will never know why he did this. Perhaps he wished to address the inevitable but shallow "you don't know, you haven't tried it" arguments. Perhaps to elevate the quality of debate, or perhaps just to light that curse assuaging candle. But we do know this--we know what T.O. would say to you, the reader, right at this very moment:
"Turn off the TV, the cellphone and the computer and pick up a book and read it. Reading a book, any book, is better for you and better for America than what you are doing RIGHT now!"