Robert M. Thornton
Edmund A. Opitz
+a third, unnamed
Michael A. Thornton
Christen Hallberg Kleinschmidt
David A. Woodbury
H. L. Mencken
The Society’s original announcement
Three admirers of the late Albert Jay Nock met for lunch early in 1963 — a doctor, a businessman, and a clergyman. Individually, each had found his own way to AJN, and felt an affinity for Nock’s ideals as well as Nock’s nonpushy approach to the idea business. A common interest in AJN had brought these three together in the first place; here, as in other instances, Nock proved to be the touchstone. Men who respond to Nock tend to hit it off pretty well together. Such is a sufficient reason for the Nockian Society.
We are not out to save the world. Neither is our aim to idolize a man or endorse every idea embraced by AJN. Nock had a way of setting ideas in motion and then keeping out of their way. The Society keeps out of its members’ way, as it pursues a policy of salutary neglect.
NO OFFICERS, NO DUES, NO MEETINGS
The most tangible thing about the Nockian Society is its mailing list. The Hon. Sec’y is eager to add your name to this collection.
The Nockian Society Today
The Perpetuators listed above, representing the Founders’ shared affinity, are also connected to the Founders insofar as Michael Thornton is the son of Robert Thornton, Christen Hallberg Kleinschmidt is the daughter of Charles Hallberg, publisher of Nock’s works and goddaughter of the Reverend Opitz, and David Woodbury, serving as webmaster and “Honorable Secretary,” has been a Nockian Society member for half a century and counting.
Numerous iterations of the Nockian Society have arisen in the shadow of the original “organization.” All deserve respect for sustaining the life of Nock’s ideals. Any other locus on the internet or elsewhere can legitimately claim that status, just as any local Historical Society or Shakespeare Society or Astronomy Club can do its best to draw attention to and learn from the stars or perpetuate the memory of and appreciation for its subject. There is no “official” Nockian Society just as there is no official Remnant.
A Note from David A. Woodbury, “Hon. Sec’y”
The businessman and last surviving member of the original trio of founders was Robert M. Thornton. I last spoke with him by telephone a few years before he died in 2017 at the age of 89. (And I acknowledge that many other admirers of Nock’s works have similarly made his acquaintance.)
The Perpetuators, named above, have undertaken the responsibility to sustain the Nockian Society in the spirit of its founding. Nowadays, though, we no longer need a mailing list. We welcome and encourage communication by email if only to say Hello.
Through passages from Nock’s works and the writings of others who share Nock’s ideas and ideals, this site will preserve the legacy for at least a few more years.
It is significant to point out that the Society is not an organized, functioning body of members with officers and a 501(c)(3) certificate from the IRS. In Nock’s parlance, asking the IRS to bless the Nockian Society would be tantamount to asking Satan to bless the sacrament at the Vatican.
Calling the Society an organization, as in AlbertJayNock.org, also runs counter to Nock’s spirit. But the internet leaves us few options, so .org it is.
Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.