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Monday, August 21, 2006

Book Meme

Okay, I don't even know what a meme is (like a chain letter? do you have to call people "dude" to know what it means?) but I saw this over at Law and Letters and then again from Christine Hurt at Conglomerate and it seems like nice mind candy before I go home.  The set of questions comes from Ann Bartow.   (Is this what James Lipton (the "fawning sycophant") does with that set of questions in each interview on Inside the Actors Studio?) 

Here goes:

1.  One book that changed your life.  Evil in Modern Thought: An Alternative History of Philosophy by Susan Neiman.  It was my introduction to Kant.

2.  One book you have read more than once. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, by John LeCarre.  The best spy novel ever written.

3.  One book you would want on a desert island.  Boy, that's tough.  How long am I there?  I suppose a complete works of Shakespeare.  "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child."  Or:  "Blow, winds and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!"

4.  One book that made you laugh.  Easy.  Missing Links, by Rick Reilly (of Sports Illustrated).  Maybe you have to be a golfer to appreciate it, but it is clever beyond belief and funny as anything.   But runners up are the original Rumpole of the Bailey by John Mortimer, and Ball Four by Jim Bouton.

5.  One book that made you cry.  I'm a manly man, and I don't cry.  But if I did cry, and I'm not joking, I read it to a student today, the last several pages of John Adams by David McCullough.  Great people should not get old and die.

6.  One book you wish had been written.  Meat Market for Dummies.

7.  One book you wish had never been written. Amsterdam, by Ian McEwan.  My wife gave it to me.  This guy is considered a great writer?  Give me a break.

8.  One book you are currently reading.  The Foreign Correspondent, by Alan Furst.

9.  One book you have been meaning to readA Theory of Property, by Stephen R. Munzer.

Posted by Jeff Lipshaw on August 21, 2006 at 07:32 PM in Blogging | Permalink


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Oh, not to worry, Matt. I absolutely agree it is not the right place to go if you want a systematic overview of Kant before you dig in. It was an introduction. As in, "Mr. Lipshaw, have you met Professor Kant?" "No, actually not, but your reputation, of course, precedes you. I am so pleased to make your acquaintance. Let's have lunch some time. But it will have to be rinderfleisch or ochsenbrust, because I'm on Atkins." Not even Susan Neiman would suggest the work is an exposition on Kant. It is a philosopher's attempt (a) to restate the categories of modern moral philosophy by the approach to evil, and (b) to make it accessible to regular old people like me who wake up one morning and see a review of it in the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times.

Actually, to get to the parts of Kant that really interest me (Transcendental Logic in the Second Part of the Transcendental Dialectic (A293/B249)), you have to read the unabridged Critique of Pure Reason, because even the good anthologies (e.g., Allen W. Wood, Basic Writings of Kant) leave that out.

Posted by: Jeff Lipshaw | Aug 22, 2006 9:35:16 AM

As a matter of full disclosure, I am pleased to say Simon Pride is married to a certain Arielle Lipshaw-Pride. We are a family that enjoys a well-turned phrase.

Posted by: Jeff Lipshaw | Aug 22, 2006 2:57:14 AM

Susan Neiman was your introduction to Kant? A weird introduction, I think. Nothing against her, but I hope you went on to some actual Kant. For those who want an introduction, though, Rawls's lectures on the history of moral philosophy are quite nice, even if it does seem that Kant turns out to be a bit more of a precursor to Rawls than might have otherwise been though.

Posted by: Matt | Aug 21, 2006 10:24:15 PM

Iain McEwan is a typical product of Malcolm Bradbury's literature forcing-house at the University of East Anglia in Norwich in the UK, hard by the John Innes Research Institute. As every good gardner knows, good nutrition and adequate light and water are essential for healthy plants. John Innes is famous the world over for its nutritious, water-retaining compost that is a sine qua non for horticultural success. Would that some of those ideas had been adapted by the neighbouring institution and applied to their own processes. As it is, the graduates of Bradbury's farm are universally over-extended, pallid, thin and bitter.

Posted by: Simon Pride | Aug 21, 2006 9:41:09 PM

Jeff, maybe it's because we're part of the annointed UCC brotherhood (you've mastered the secret handshake, right?), but I'll echo your thoughts on #7, offering one of McEwan's other works: Atonement. I started reading this book three times before plowing through to the end. I later offered this book at a garage sale; when a prospective buyer showed some interest I shared my thoughts and discouraged the purchase. Sorry, Mr. McEwan. I'm just not that into you.

Posted by: tim zinnecker | Aug 21, 2006 8:53:54 PM

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