I came across this delightful interview with William F. Buckley Jr. the other night when searching and browsing Firing Line video archives (see the 1990 Christopher Hitchens Firing Line episode, from earlier today, here) started reading it, and ended up reading it multiple times. What a pleasure to discover this. It’s captured from the pre-digital era, so it’s stored as a PDF of a photocopy directly from the print magazine, you can access the whole thing here. Below is just one image file, which links to Reason. The March 1983 interview reveals Buckley’s characteristic thoughtfulness, charm, rich vocabulary, humor, and well-mannered social persona, his Roman Catholicism, the founding of the National Review, decades of work on Firing Line, his friction with figures like Ayn Rand, his literary and scholarly alliances, and opponents, his spy novels, his views on libertarianism, contemporary conservatism, and much, much more. The Reason interviewer’s questions are good, too, informed, and engaging.
I was particularly interested in Buckley’s use of the word “schematic”, to describe what he doesn’t have an appetite for, favoring instead an eclectic and evolving world view. This interview barely scratches the surface. To get a sense of the fresh appeal (and timelessness) of Buckley’s thinking, refer to National Review’s “Our Mission Statement“, which Buckley wrote in 1955. As one NR reader notes, “the edits on this for 2014 would be minimal.” Though 1980s references appear in the discussion, I’d say the same could be said about this interview.