I’ve fallen woefully short of my publication goal for this week. I enjoy writing for the blog. However, much of my time has been spent in teaching, getting ready to teach, or lately, running. So, I haven’t exactly made writing in the strictest sense a priority, although most of the above has been a function of some kind of writing. But it’s not finished writing — just enough to get the job done to either give my students a thorough lecture or devise good open-ended questions for a discussion-based class period.
In terms of audiobooks, I’ve been listening some to Middlemarch while I drive. However, it’s kind of difficult on the run, as you really want to participate with all your faculties. George Eliot demands a kind of surrender that many contemporary authors don’t require, and is difficult to render if a person is trying to listen while doing other tasks, or perhaps even trying to read other books. The surrender pays rich dividends when the option is available. This is something that I’ve noticed with other authors such as Tolstoy, Doestoevsky, and Melville. Perhaps the reason that these works aren’t preferred by students is the necessity to utterly surrender oneself to enjoy a satisfying experience with these texts. There’s a degree of resistance in the soul to such a surrender that must be overcome. But this is essential to reading a work charitably, putting oneself under the tutelage of the text, and withholding judgment until understanding of the text is achieved. I’ve also started listening to Murakami’s Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. However, I’m wondering if he is going to require the same kind of surrender that George Eliot does.
I finished Charles Murray’s Coming Apart. It was a worthwhile read. The data he presents quite clearly supports his view that America is becoming more segmented and stratified as a society. What may be controversial is how one interprets the data, and what conclusions are to be drawn from it. And morally, is this a good development for American society, or is this something to be lamented? On balance, it seems that this new stratification is something to be lamented. However, the aggregation of brain power in what Murray calls ‘the new upper class” has some beneficial effects for all of America. The downside is that the new upper class has little contact with the rest of America. It appears that the new lower class does not either. The only caveat on this book I have on this one is that some of the later chapters could have been abridged or eliminated. However, I suppose he really wanted to convince the naysayers to his thesis. I’m pretty sold on his thesis about the distance and America being segmented into demographic “neighborhoods,” but uncertain about what that means for the future or if anything can or should be done about this.