Dewey has written some 40 books of fiction and nonfiction, as
well as contributed scores of stories to magazines and other periodicals.
He has also had some 30 plays staged in Europe and the United
States. Dewey was editor of the ASME-award winning magazine Attenzione
and was editorial director of the East-West Network, overseeing
a dozen in-flight magazines and the PBS organ Dial. His most recent
thriller novel is Red
No matter that
it has been declared the sine non qua of the human condition
by millennia of sages, we have never really been comfortable with
this self-preservation thing. Not even philosophical endorsements
from ancient Greeks, Enlightened Europeans and Hollywood action
stars have quite permitted us to feel more representative of instinctual
accomplishment than savage impulse. We may accept being part of
an aggressive natural flow, but we prefer not to look too closely
at all its currents. At their best, self-preservation images are
tawdry, at their worst, absolutely cannibalistic. The fittest
might survive, but with a residue of melancholy. We wish we could
survive in some other way than . . . well, surviving.
recently, we have had an even edgier relationship with self-reservation;
i.e., where we survive and don't much care who else does. While
genetic cousins and also close to each other in popular dictionaries,
self-reservation is no mere variation on self-preservation,
but its nemesis. Even in its most brutal formulation self-preservation
relies on a social component for defining its parameters, but
self-reservation is indebted to no such context. It accepts that
no man is an island, but only insofar as even the most remote
islands offer no
guarantee against the presence of vegetable and marine life, posing
rivals for attention. Self-reservation resents the company. No
island can be far enough away.
makes for a lot of reasons to be wary of self-reservation. Superficially
like self-preservation, it has developed in a world of affective
relationships; a priori hostility to them or not, they
persist, making it an arduous hourly struggle to ignore them as
irrelevant. The struggle becomes particularly poignant when family
and those who are accused of being loved ones come in. Ultimately,
these people may be dispensable according to self-reservation's
grand scheme, but how can that be acknowledged without prompting
isolation illustrating the adage about being careful about you
good news is that self-reservation has been up to that challenge,
especially of late. Indeed, it has seized every occasion to assert
its presence. The more warnings about global warming, for instance,
the more self-reservation has alertly responded to confirm its
indifference to what might happen to others another New Year's
Eve or two from now. This has included the future generations
within its own family orbit, since in the last analysis those
people are simply more of ‘them.’ Within this consistency
every cold snap just gives the lie to the warming nonsense, too
much greenery lays over subterranean fuels wasted on gophers,
and Arctic termites have alibis for all the glaciers crashing
into the sea. The worst -- the very worst -- that can happen is
that the climate warmers are right so great-grandchildren will
pick up the tab, and why worry about them since they don't even
have names right now.
has also been increasingly active on less hysterical social policy
issues. It urges cutting back on medical assistance for those
who have not only made the miscalculation of being too poor, but
also of being too young, to matter. Guns? Distribute more of them
so that the people who don't matter will matter even less as corpses.
Wars? They are always the fault of others. Children in cages?
If they weren't dangerous, they would
not be there. Self-reservation's fundamental logic: it will never
be threatened by the terrorism of community.
ancient Greeks, Babylonians, and Incas had a word for self-reservation
and it wasn't self-preservation.