The Word According to Tom Wolfe

Uploaded by HooverInstitution on 25.09.2008

Peter Robinson: Welcome to Uncommon Knowledge. I'm Peter Robinson. Tom Wolfe grew up in Richmond,
Virginia, received his undergraduate degree from Washington and Lee in 1951, tried out,
alas, unsuccessfully for the pitching staff of the then New York Giants, then received
a Doctorate in American Studies from Yale University in 1957. His impact on American
journalism and letters since leaving Yale has proven so immense that his current editor
at Little Brown said that publishing Tom Wolfe is "like publishing Mark Twain". He is the
author of among many other works "The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby". It is impossible
to read that title without smiling, "The Right Stuff", "The Bonfire of the Vanities" and
"I am Charlotte Simmons." Tom Wolfe, you are currently completing a novel to be published
in 2009 entitled "Back to Blood". Back to Blood, he once proclaimed that the new journalism,
the application of literary techniques to nonfiction would, I quote you, "wipe out the
novel as literature's main event". Tom Wolfe, why are you working on your fourth novel?
Tom Wolfe: Well, what you've just said is actually true as we speak right here. As we
speak, the novel is dying a horrible death. It really is. It’s always had it, and soon
it'll be in the same position as epic poetry was in the early 19th century. You know, that
is always the great genre, but nonfiction will continue and the memoir and autobiography
will never die, it never has died, and they're interesting these memoirs and autobiographies
because they're like Wikipedia. Some of it may be true yet—
Peter Robinson: If only inadvertently.
Tom Wolfe: Yeah.
Peter Robinson: But why then have you--Let's see, "Bonfire of the Vanities" was published
in 1979, if I recall.
Tom Wolfe: No. That was--"The Right Stuff" was published then. It was published in 1987.
Peter Robinson: '87. "A Man in Full" is Atlanta in the New South in the 1990. But of course,
"Bonfire of the Vanities" is New York in the '80s. "A Man in Full", Atlanta, the rise of
the South in the '90s. "I am Charlotte Simmons", student life in America in the 21st century,
"Back to Blood" is what?
Tom Wolfe: Oh, it's a novel and it's set in Miami. My real interest is immigration.
Peter Robinson: Immigration, alright.
Tom Wolfe: And a couple of years ago when I first got the idea I would tell people what
I was doing. They'd say, "Oh, that's so interesting". Their heads would fall over. They go to sleep
like a horse, you know, standing up. But since then, the subject has picked up a little momentum
and I'm just curious. My real curiosity is that how immigrants actually feel, what their
own social structure is like for such a thing does exist. And in general, to me the immigrants
have been a mystery. I assume to a lot of people and to one another.
Peter Robinson: Little Brown's press release announcing that they had acquired the book
is about 2 months ago, as I recall.
Tom Wolfe: Yes. Same as early January.
Peter Robinson: Alright, early January. But I suspect, given the way you approach a novel
that you've been at work at it for some time.
Tom Wolfe: Not really all that long.
Peter Robinson: Oh really?
Tom Wolfe: I'm at the stage now I make rash predictions that this will be out next fall,
and I mean the fall of 2009.
Peter Robinson: Alright.
Tom Wolfe: Go ahead.
Peter Robinson: Immigration, 2 quotations. Quotation 1, Harvard Political Scientist,
Samuel Huntington. "Unlike past immigrant groups, Mexicans and other Latinos have not
assimilated into mainstream US culture forming instead their own political and linguistic
enclaves from Los Angeles to Miami. The persistent inflow of Hispanic immigrants threatens to
divide the United States into 2 peoples, 2 cultures, and 2 languages." Quotation number
2, former governor of Florida, Jeb Bush. "Samuel Huntington needs to get a life."
[ Laughter ] Whose side are you on on that one?
Tom Wolfe: Well, this is not a policy book, you understand?
Peter Robinson: I understand that. I understand that.
Tom Wolfe: Just to what little I know from working on this book and I stressed a little.
I think bilingualism is gonna solve itself. Now, a lot of Latins who don't wanna believe
that, who don't believe that and they want to hang on to the Spanish language with great
pride, but it's a very, I think it's gonna be pretty soon that the succeeding generations
of Latin immigrants really is gonna go more and more weary of preserving the old language
because obviously the--[inaudible] all the movie star in English.
Peter Robinson: That does it.
Tom Wolfe: The television that they might wanna watch is usually in English. They go
to schools, like the public schools everyone's talking. I think it's no problem at all.
Peter Robinson: So you have plunged yourself into this red hot issue of immigration. You've
done research, I'm supposing in Miami. That's the way you go about your work and the Samuel
Huntingtons of this world you say, "Oh, tat, tat, calm down. It will all take care of itself."
That's roughly your position? You come away from your own word unworried.
Tom Wolfe: Yeah. Well from what I’ve seen, I'm more interested in what's going on that
I am worried. I haven't seen anything yet that worries me. And Miami, you have to understand,
is an example why America is a wonderful country. Here's a people from a foreign country, a
foreign language, a foreign culture and within slightly more than one generation, if you
figure a generation would be 30 years.
Peter Robinson: Right.
Tom Wolfe: They had taken over a huge metropolitan area politically. I'm talking about the Cubans.
Peter Robinson: Right.
Tom Wolfe: And the mayors is Cuban, the officer of the police force, every part of government.
This is something unique in history because Miami is already the only city of--and I'll
say in the world that I know of that has more immigrants, recent immigrants than it has
been the 50 percent recent immigrants. And we--by reason that means in the last 50 years.
Peter Robinson: Right.
Tom Wolfe: And not only that. The one group, the Cubans runs the place and others are moving
up fairly swiftly beside them. This is only in America where it could happen because here
if you got the votes, if you have a [inaudible] of organization, you win at the ballot box.
Peter Robinson: Right.
Tom Wolfe: It's a—
Peter Robinson: Ronald Reagan's most sustained applause line that I can recall was in a speech
in Miami. Fidel Castro said he would create the greatest Hispanic city in the world and
he did, only it was Miami and not Havana. [ Laughter ] How does Tom Wolfe do what Tom
Wolfe does? A moment ago, I quoted you or you referred to the notion that when you got
the idea for doing a book on immigration and people would fall asleep until immigration
became a hot topic. How did you get the idea? Where do these things come from?
Tom Wolfe: Honestly in that case, I really don't remember but I always prefer subjects
that I'm hearing about only in conversation, that haven't been in print yet.
Peter Robinson: And you're hearing about them in conversation because the conversation beats
the journalists or because conversation can take up topics that remain politically incorrect?
Tom Wolfe: No, I don't think it has--[inaudible] anyway has nothing to do with political correctness.
I have a feeling it was just seen immigrant mostly Mexican work as in Long Island at 6
o'clock in the morning standing on the corner waiting to be- for a day's work, [simultaneous
talking] literally a day's work.
Peter Robinson: Right.
Tom Wolfe: That as I recall was the first that I was aware of all this.
Peter Robinson: Let me just quote to you from your famous 1989 Harper's essay, "Stalking
the Billion-Footed Beast". There's a question at the end of this. "Publishers had their
noses pressed against their thermopane glass walls scanning the billion-footed city for
the approach of the young novelist who surely would bring them the big novels of the racial
clashes, the hippy movement, the new left and the Wall Street boom, the sexual revolution,
the war in Vietnam, but such creatures it seem no longer existed. The strange fact of
the matter was that young people with serious literary ambitions were no longer interested
in big rich slices of contemporary life." Now that's your manifesto for writing the
kind of novels that you write. When did it happen that in this country that who--the
formative novelist, the great novelist is Mark Twain? When did it happen that American
letters became possessed of precious little stories instead of big boisterous stories
that fit the temper of the country itself?
Tom Wolfe: It happened soon after the Second World War and there was a key essay by Lionel
Trilling who was at Columbia. He was a professor, but he also had a huge following among, but
let us call--I'll explain it later if you want, the charming aristocracy.
Peter Robinson: Charming aristocracy, alright.
Tom Wolfe: And he said the day of the realistic novel is over. It's been done, it's been done
to death, and besides, we live in a fractured society now and you cannot do a slice of life
and pretend that this slice of life is giving you all the life in the country. The future
of the novel is on the novel of ideas. But it so happened you had one in his desk.
[ Laughter ] Which he duly produced.
Peter Robinson: Which novel is that?
Tom Wolfe: I mean nobody remembers it. I certainly don't.
[ Laughter ]
Peter Robinson: Alright.
Tom Wolfe: And it was duly published and duly praised by the charming aristocracy and then
it sank like a stone on a pond but the idea was out there, that the realistic novel has
been done and the novel of ideas was next. That's why immediately somebody like, well,
Norman Mailer who had made a big name for himself with a war novel, realistic war novel,
"The Naked and the Dead."
Peter Robinson: The Naked and the Dead. Sure.
Tom Wolfe: He follows that up with a novel called "Barbary Coast" which is unfortunately
not about the Barbary Coast. It's about a group of people in a boarding house in Brooklyn
and they're having long conversations about life and politics and a lot of ideas. Exactly
what Lionel Trilling was calling for and Mailer has many unreadable novels but that was among
the most unreadable.
Peter Robinson: I'm happy to see that the mere accident of his death has not changed
the way you speak about him.
Tom Wolfe: Well I know that Norman would want me to speak truthfully about it.
[ Laughter ]
Peter Robinson: Alright. Actually that leads to another question. So your novels speak
for themselves because they've sold hundreds of thousands of copies. It is manifest that
American readers want what you are producing. On the other hand, in reviewing "A Man in
Full," John Updike, Norman Mailer, blessed memory, John Irving all accused you of being
a journalist, that this is not literature. It's not really fiction and you reply how?
I ask the question knowing that you did reply in the essay called "My Three Stooges" but
the point here is well Wolfe is on to something but really when it comes down to it, if you
read that stuff, it's journalism.
Tom Wolfe: This was to me a sign of the charming aristocracy at work. Let me—
Peter Robinson: Sort of explain the term, yes, yes, yes. You're teasing me with it,
I'll give. Go ahead. Explain.
Tom Wolfe: We're still little colonials of the French when it comes to theory. In the
1880s, a man named Catulle Mendez who was the minor--turned out to be a minor poet in
Peter Robinson: We now know him to have been minor.
Tom Wolfe: said that real writers no longer expect to be read by multitudes of people
and people like Zola and Flaubert and Maupassant are in the past, those three happen--well
not Flaubert so much, but Zola and Maupassant, probably two most popular writers in the world
in the 1880s. Naturalism which was their genre, it's finished. Now people want to write for
a charming aristocracy. He was speaking of writers like Baudelaire, Mallarme and Rimbaud
and he said, in effect he said, they're not gonna put their hands down in the mock of
so called naturalism. They send off whaffs of sensibility and of course the charming
aristocracy is an aristocracy of taste and in order to prove that you are an aristocrat
of taste, you have to like things that great mass of humanity can't understand and hence
something like journalism, which is written precisely shows the great masses of humanity
can't understand it, is--would be looked down upon by the charming aristocracy. In fact
in American literature essentially journalistic approach has been behind—
Peter Robinson: Twain for goodness sake, Hemingway, right.
Tom Wolfe: --every success. Hemingway went about writing novels that way but even more
to the point, Sinclair Lewis, our first Nobel Prize winner in Literature, to do a novel
about his hometown. It's off the center of Minnesota. He didn't just draw on his memories,
he went back with 5 by 8 cards that was when he end up with graduate school taking notes
on every area of life. John Steinbeck, in case of the "Grapes of Wrath" which is really
the book that won him the Nobel Prize, went to the San Francisco News that was such a
paper at that time and volunteered to go ahead and write a series on these migrant workers
who were pouring in from the Dust Bowl into California in the mid-to-late '30s. He didn't
know anything about them except for the fact that they were living under apparently deplorable
circumstances. He went out as a reporter really and he was actually with a newspaper to give
himself credentials and just immersed himself in the lives of these—
Peter Robinson: So you refuge on Updike by saying Twain, Hemingway, Sinclair Lewis, Steinbeck,
they were good enough for me.
Tom Wolfe: Well they're probably good enough for anybody even—
Peter Robinson: Even Updike.
Tom Wolfe: --Updike.
Peter Robinson: As you complete "Back to Blood," you were working on or perhaps it's the next
item on your desk. Let's put it this way. You've talk about it in the press a book called
"The Human Beast."
Tom Wolfe: Yes.
Peter Robinson: And the last time you appeared on this program, a decade ago I'm very to
say, you had just written an essay in Forbes Magazine called "Sorry, but Your Soul Just
Tom Wolfe: Yes, that was--go ahead.
Peter Robinson: That was a very big essay. It got noticed absolutely everywhere and that
you have continued your interest in neuroscience, it was about neuroscience, right?
Tom Wolfe: Yes.
Peter Robinson: Okay. Now you've written about figures in science who have had profound effects
on popular culture not withstanding that the scientists have moved on. Could you please
comment on the following list: Darwin, Marx, Freud, E. O. Wilson.
Tom Wolfe: The common thread there is the power of the word and the--Darwin was really
an obscure man. He had a famous grandfather and famous in academic sense and he came up
with a theory that by itself and incidentally stole it from a poor young man named Wallace,
but it was the most outrageous act of plagiarism in the history of academic pursuit. Anyway,
that's--alright. Marx, same way. Here's the unpleasant man, a loner and he is working
away in the British museum writing "Das Kapital" but the idea is something that changes human
history in large and obvious ways, also Darwin. Freud, exactly the same, Freud introduced
the idea that the human being is like a steam boiler and the steam is sexual drive and that
if you don't equip the steam boiler with a means of releasing the pressure—
Peter Robinson: Safety valve.
Tom Wolfe: --safety valve. It will blow up just as humans would. And so he put forth
the idea that you really have to have sex steadily and frequently--he himself was a
better proof of that so to speak. And that idea has never died back at this moment. Another
thing that's going on—
Peter Robinson: As the novel is dying.
Tom Wolfe: As the novel is dying, maybe it needs a little sexual impetus, I don't know.
There's probably, let's take a guess, 7 to 8 million orgasms at this moment that would
not have occurred had Sigmund Freud never lived.
Peter Robinson: You're making me smile and I don't want my children to see me smiling
at that tone.
Tom Wolfe: And Edward O. Wilson is the most interesting apparently. He's a zoologist.
He's specialty is ants and he's really done some marvelous things on the study of ants.
He's won two Pulitzer Prizes. He puts forth now the genetic theory that practically every
side of life and everyone's life is genetically predetermined and in fact he has said summary
of the whole thing in a sentence. He said, every human brain is born not as a blank slate
waiting to be filled in by experience but as a piece of film that's from a camera waiting
to be slipped into developer fluid by which he means you can develop it well, you can
develop it poorly but all you're gonna get is what was on that piece of film at birth.
The over arching theory is that we are after all machines and we are programed by genes
and there's no way we can change decisions. We have no free will. We're just—
Peter Robinson: We have no free will. Now when you appeared on this program last time,
two quotations both Tom Wolfe, I asked you are you persuaded by this science that we're
all in effect machines. No free will. No moral capacity and Tom Wolfe replied, "I'm afraid
that the science is true." Tom Wolfe in an interview earlier this year, "The genetic
theorists know in their hearts that their reasoning is bogus." Would you please explain
the development on your thinking Mr. Wolfe?
Tom Wolfe: I made a--when I wrote "Sorry, but Your Soul Just Died. I made a mistake
of which now I freely admit of conflating, I think that's the word, neuroscience and
genetic theory, they have, it turns out almost nothing to do with one another. Neuroscience
is a science of how the brain actually operates. One of the leading figures in that science
today is a Spaniard named Jose Delgado. His father was perhaps the greatest brain physiologist
of the 20th century and he says all the rest is literature. That turns out this is what
genetic theory is. The leading proponents, E. O Wilson, I mean God bless him. He was
a wonderful zoologist.
Peter Robinson: Pretty good writer too.
Tom Wolfe: He's a good writer, excellent writer. He knows--I doubt he knows the matter of the
brain as a second year neuro--student in neuropsychology, graduate student in neuropsychology. Daniel
Dennett, this philosopher at Tufts knows--doesn't even pretend to know anything about the human
brain. Richard Dawkins, the other great name in this area. He originally taught Ethology,
which is the social life of animals, at Oxford. They're writing literature. The thing they
do not understand and this is what will be if I ever get "The Human Beast" written is
that they don't understand what speech is.
Peter Robinson: If I may, the being who speaks. Your 2006 Jefferson lecture, "Have illusion
came to an end when the human beast developed speech," and you argue that Homo sapiens was
at that moment replaced by Homo loquax.
Tom Wolfe: Man speaking.
Peter Robinson: Man speaking.
Tom Wolfe: Man talking and there are people like Chomsky and others who are wonderful
in speculating about the language as to communication, speeches, communication but they don't know
the properties of it. Language is in fact an artifact just as much as an ancient ax
found in an archeological—
Peter Robinson: By artifact do you mean human construct?
Tom Wolfe: Yes.
Peter Robinson: Alright.
Tom Wolfe: In any artifact humans, we don't know of any other animals that can do it.
Humans will take things from nature and use them to create something that never existed
before. That was a point which speech is a matter of taking sounds and using them in
code to represent ideas, things, it doesn't matter. When it's turned into print or for
that matter a blue print, it's obviously an artifact.
Peter Robinson: Right.
Tom Wolfe: But we don't see that there's obviously an artifact in speech.
Peter Robinson: Now. So your position now having reflected on this matter for another
decade. I intend to check in with you once a decade just to track your thinking as it
evolves. Is that evolution may explain the sheer physical fact of you and me but speech,
the human mind explains status, music, art, commerce, virtually everything we value. That's
a fair summary.
Tom Wolfe: Oh exactly and it's using this artifact because if you look at the beasts
of the field as Darwin referred to and for that matter the smallest little fish, status
is determined by aggressiveness and power to get to sexual objects that you want.
Peter Robinson: Right.
Tom Wolfe: The female of the species and whereas today now that we have language to play with,
this artifact to play with, there was innumerable ways of gaining status and those love objects
that you want. I mean when you think of this—
Peter Robinson: If he has a honey tongue even an ugly man can win the woman.
Tom Wolfe: That's--well, it's quite true. I think of Elvis Presley is better known to
most Americans than the 10 Presidents preceding Bill Clinton.
[ Laughter ]
Peter Robinson: That's true. Now this brings us back to go back to that discussion we had
about a decade ago to free will, the moral capacity, the religious sense. The last time
we spoke in the program, I ask you point blank, does Tom Wolfe believe in God? And the answer
was no but Tom Wolfe did believe in "the crucible of self" and to quote you again, "the inviolable
self." Is that about where your thinking stands now?
Tom Wolfe: Gosh, I was poetic, wasn't I?
Peter Robinson: You're good [ Laughter ]
Tom Wolfe: Believing in--no [inaudible] and other marvelous line about believing in yourself.
He said, "My God, what a splendor read to believe in." [Laughter] That's all you've
got? I quite agree with him. I don't know what this crucible was but I do believe that
it's something—
Peter Robinson: The concept was, you said Steven, this was just even after you wrote
Sorry, but Your Soul Just Died and at that point you could not elaborate. You didn't
go into this distinction between genetic theory and neuroscience but you felt, you said on
the program you just felt that they were wrong. We're not machines. Each of us is possessed
of somehow or rather a consciousness of self. That's what you were talking about at that
Tom Wolfe: But I think it's a product of language. Alright, let's say for the sake of argument,
we will argue with that. We are machines and you'll notice that in each era the scientists
who speculate about such things usually prevailing technology as their point of reference. Mechanical
physics had just come to its peak when Freud was writing [inaudible] and steam.
Peter Robinson: Hence were all steam boilers.
Tom Wolfe: They were all steam boilers. Today, it's all computers and—
Peter Robinson: Yes, hence we're all hardwired?
Tom Wolfe: Yes. Hardwire exactly and there's--the entire vocabulary of computers is used. If
we are computers, we are chemical analog computers and I don't know of a single person who can't
operate a chemical analog. [ Laughter ]
Peter Robinson: Tell me what you make of the following statement, "What makes man like
God is the fact that unlike the whole world of other living creatures including those
endowed with senses, man is also a rational being." I'm hoping you'll go for that, to
be rational, to think is to manipulate words. What do you think of that statement?
Tom Wolfe: Well, we get back to in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and
the word was God.
Peter Robinson: So you tend to approve of the statement?
Tom Wolfe: That would be what we call rationales that wouldn't exist without—
Peter Robinson: What I've done is edge you on to the same bookshelf as John Paul II who
is the author of that statement. I've just keep pushing at you.
[ Laughter ]
Tom Wolfe: But I don't think he was going at it quite in terms of the properties of
speech. There would be no, because rational thought depends upon the ability to ask why.
Without words, there's no--have you ever seen an animal shrug?
Peter Robinson: Tom Wolfe and America. You mentioned in the New York Times interview
that you admire President Bush "for his great decisiveness and willingness to fight." You
later said that the reaction to that Times interview in literary circles was as if you
had said, "Oh I forgot to tell you I'm a child molester." [Laughter] You sometimes wear an
American flag pin in your lapel. You've liken the response to that in the City of New York
to holding up a cross to werewolves.
Tom Wolfe: That's right.
Peter Robinson: My question is why should this be? You live 80, 90 blocks as does all
of the charming aristocracy from that what is still a hole in the ground, the Twin Towers.
This is only 6 years later, 7 years later. Why should it be that they should be so hostile
that you of all people, why? Why? Why?
Tom Wolfe: This also goes back to the charming aristocracy. For a long, long time now, it's
been very unpopular for anyone of intellectual pretensions to approve of whatever government
they have.
Peter Robinson: Right.
Tom Wolfe: That it's very much a fashion. Bush has attracted unbelievable--nah, I take
that back it's believable because the same thing happened to Eisenhower. Same thing happened
to Reagan. They were considered stupid.
Peter Robinson: Right.
Tom Wolfe: They were thought to be just these benighted creatures who obviously were operated
by someone else and they were always looking for the puppeteer behind Reagan.
Peter Robinson: Right.
Tom Wolfe: I mean they couldn't believe that and the same with Eisenhower because Eisenhower
could never complete a sentence in a press conference. He would start off with a relative
clause like "whereas people in China believe--which reminds me." He could not get to a predicate
but all he had done--he was considered very stupid by those same people. People forget
this. So is Reagan. And if it--well, all that Eisenhower did was win World War II. All that
Reagan did was win the Cold War and so far, we don't know how much Bush accomplished but
it's very striking to me that the aggressiveness of which he attacked the training grounds
of Al-Qaeda at the very out set did something profound to that movement. It knocked out—
Peter Robinson: We've not been attacked since.
Tom Wolfe: It knocked out some large apparatus in the mean time.
Peter Robinson: Right.
Tom Wolfe: We don't know what the verdict will be on Iraq in the long run because think
of Vietnam and the raucous was over Vietnam. And now if you ask people who were much against
that war at the time, what was wrong with that war? They can't remember.
Peter Robinson: They can't remember.
Tom Wolfe: They can't remember what it was, was and then but I ask the question do you
think the war was a success? Oh no, it couldn't have been. I said, look, what was the purpose
of it? It was to stop communism in Asia. Did it do it? Well, yes, it did, it did.
Peter Robinson: Now, last question but this is going to require a little bit of a setup.
Henry Luce famously called the 20th century the American Century. Listen to a quotation
from another acute observer, Tony Soprano. "It's good to be in something from the ground
floor. I came too late for that, I know but lately I'm getting the feeling that I came
in at the end. The best is over." Is the best over for America or is there some chance that
the 21st century will be a second American century?
Tom Wolfe: Well, Tony Soprano is also going to a psychiatrist. Nobody does that anymore.
[ Laughter ] I mean talk about the past. That's the most unreal thing about the—
Peter Robinson: The Sopranos?
Tom Wolfe: --about the Sopranos but give me the punch line--I mean the question then—
Peter Robinson: Well, the question is, is the 20th--is there some prospect that the
21st century can be a second American century or has this--or are we breaking at the end
of the 19th? Are we about to lose our dominance?
Tom Wolfe: I think we are on the edge of about 800 more years of American centuries frankly.
We--the biggest problem is all the people who see a problem. It's very fashionable to
see that--to think that the end is near. After the end of the 20th century which was unquestionably
the American century, American ascendancy and everything except thought, we were still
colonials of Europe—
Peter Robinson: To the charming aristocracies.
Tom Wolfe: --to the charming aristocracies. But in every other area, we were supreme in
a way that no country has ever been before. If you can just review the television specials
at the end of the century, there are many of them that said well, this is a country
that has brought great freedom to so many people but we have people out there like Dr.
Death who wants to have euthanasia be legal. We have the problem of militant trainees on
the far right, up in the Rockies. Everything was hedged by these tremendous threats. I've
covered Neo-Nazi as a newspaper reporter, Neo-Nazi demonstrations. You also have 9 poor
benighted people watching around in a circle hoping for television cameras. But in actual
fact, there's absolutely nothing to prevent the next 8 centuries, next 9 centuries. There
is no reason why we shouldn't--after all, Rome had century after century and there's
no reason why we should have more. If--I don't--maybe I'd just start giving moral advice which is
be happy with what you have. [ Laughter ]
Peter Robinson: Tom Wolf, thank you very much. For Uncommon Knowledge and the Hoover Institution,
I'm Peter Robinson. Thanks for joining us.