Jeremy Brown was born in Manhattan in 1967. He has lived in Western Massachusetts for 15 years. Having been silly enough to pursue degrees in English Literature - after a year in 'Social Thought and Political Economy' - and having also taken enough credits for a major in 'Afro-American Studies' (undeclared after he was advised that white people can't build a career in this field), and because he is 'interested in writing', Jeremy has drifted inauspiciously from one job to another. He has been happily married for nine years to Cara Remal, with whom he blogs at Who Knew?.
Why do you blog? > Cara got me into it after she found the so-called 'liberal hawk' blogs to be of much comfort as we found our left-wing values not connecting with those of our friends after 9/11. I knew next to nothing about blogs but Cara said 'You should blog', and I said to Cara 'You should blog, too'. So, thanks to her, we started a blog together.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Ongoing. It started when Roger Simon and Michael Totten and then a certain professor encouraged us early on, and it continues whenever someone hints that they'd be sad if we were hit by an asteroid. Being profiled on normblog is also good.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > The first time we were personally insulted for expressing opinions. But I’m jaded now. I got called a [bleep] idiot last week and am inclined to brag about it.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > It's like having your own radio show. Decide how much you can honestly commit to blogging and stick to it. Figure out what your blog voice is and use that as your model, not other blogs or some sense of duty to a cause. Lastly, check my stats before you take my advice.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > To varying degrees: William Shakespeare, Franz Kafka, George Orwell, Christopher Hitchens.
What are you reading at the moment? > The Pritchett Century: A Selection of the Best by V. S. Pritchett; and Speaking With the Angel (stories selected by Nick Hornby).
Who are your cultural heroes? > The Beatles, Vladimir Nabokov, Bob Dylan, William Shakespeare, John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Anna Karenina.
What is your favourite movie? > Casablanca.
What is your favourite song? > I'm going to rule out anything older than 10 years. Any one of about 70% of the songs of Ron Sexsmith at any given time.
Who is your favourite composer? > J.S. Bach.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > That liberal democracy is the best thing going, given the pros and cons of human nature, and that capitalism is the right economic engine, but it must not be allowed to become a fourth branch of government.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > The conviction that all the ills of the world can be traced to American and/or British imperialism (though some ills undoubtedly can); and its corollary that many of the worst crimes of humanity can thus be ignored since we need to focus our energy on boycotting X company and defeating Y party or Z candidate in some US or British election.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > A textbook (the title of which I can't remember) that I read for a college course in the history of Latin America. Precisely, it was a chapter on the Aztecs that inserted the thin end of a perilous wedge into my thinking; though it was a left-leaning course and book, this chapter did not romanticize the Aztecs' imperialism, ethnic cleansing, bloody sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of prisoners of war, etc. While the invading Spaniards may have been still more brutal, I realized (embarrassingly late in life) that the Aztecs' brutality was not 'OK' simply on account of being part of their culture. (Didn't the Spaniards have a culture too?) Worse yet, I came to realize that this unthinkable brutality did not mean that their culture was not, in other respects, quite beautiful and important, and that the same thing must apply to European and American culture. Duh.
Who are your political heroes? > Martin Luther King (and hundreds of less mythic heroes of the African American Civil Rights Movement).
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > I would declare the deficiency of the public school system in poor communities a national emergency and appropriate federal funds to back up meaningful federal standards.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > The inexplicable but unavoidably human urge toward worshipping death and power. Currently Islamofascism.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > Best is yet to come.
Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > Not for long.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > A fundamental honesty (though fibbing is OK).
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Cruelty.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > I'd seek some kind of treatment for moderate depression while still a kid.
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > Probably Matthew Broderick, but he'd have to tone it down a bit - picture him sleep-deprived.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > London.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Reading, listening to music, juggling, smoking cigars, and blogging (if that counts)?
What is your most treasured possession? > My Parker 51 fountain pen. And I'm very sorry to say it's been missing for a week or so.
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? > Charlie.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Make me an offer.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > For the moment, Mitch Hedberg: 'When you wanna sleep, you wanna sleep. Dreaming is work. There I am, laying in my comfortable bed, and it's beautiful. Next thing you know, I gotta build a go-cart with my ex-landlord.'
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature. A list of previous profiles, and the links to them, can be found here.]