Currently reading: Montaigne: Life Without Law by Pierre Manent 📚
Currently reading: Jane Austen: Writing, Society, Politics by Tom Keymer 📚
UMN professor of history Jon Butler has a fascinating new book out: God in Gotham: The Miracle of Religion in Modern Manhattan. According to an interview with Publishers Weekly, the book “explores the rise of religious pluralism in Manhattan between 1880 and 1960.” I’m in. 📚
I watched The Booksellers this evening. It’s a delightful documentary about the passionate folks in the rare-book industry. Some mournful notes, but also some hopeful ones. Overall, a delight. Streaming now on, err, Amazon Prime. 📚 🎞
The promise of politics is that, within and through our differences, some form of common life can be discovered. But if the process of discovery is to be faithful, hopeful, and loving, we must render ourselves vulnerable to others we don’t understand.
Sapiens is a distinctly nihilist tract, rejecting every sort of theism, every claim that life has meaning, and every assertion of human rights. According to Harari, there’s nothing the least bit sacred about human life, the Declaration of Independence is in error about liberty and equality, and the word “nature” itself—as in human nature—is meaningless. Insofar as Sapiens is a work of philosophy, it’s Nietzchean in its rejection of the most central human values, as well as in its suggestion that a superman—created by genetic or “inorganic” engineering—may be on the way.
The central issue for us is probably the question of whether the mystery at the heart of poetry (and of art in general) can be kept safe against the assaults of an omnipresent talkative and soulless journalism and an equally omnipresent popular science—or pseudo-science. ~Adam Zagajewski, quoted by Cynthia Haven
Today an authentic intellectual life seems more natural in the flaneur than the professional scholar…. Whether our focus is on the tools of training, a heart for service, or learning from our asynchronous neighbors, the intellectual life is, ironically, a particular kind of political practice, an art of membership…. We can educate in a way that makes us all, despite and even through upheavals of culture, economy, and politics, more intelligible to each other and to ourselves.
Probably also been reading some Taleb. 📚
I sense a lucrative consulting career in the near future for Justen Noakes, H-E-B’s “director of emergency preparedness.” 💰💰💰
In my extra reading time these days, I’ve been taking @ayjay‘s suggestion to read essays and short stories to heart by reading Chekhov & Montaigne. Also revisiting an old favorite, The Imitation of Christ. 📚