Recommended Reading

Last week’s New Yorker (Mar 28, 2005; Vol.81, Iss.6) has a couple of articles that made for good reading while I rode the bus to and from work this week.

1. John Updike’s review of Joakim Garff’s monumental new biography of Kierkegaard (p. 71). In an aside, Updike states: “Kierkegaard’s great contribution to Western philosophy was to assert, or to reassert with Romantic urgency, that, subjectively speaking, each existence is the center of the universe. He offered himself as a corrective to idealism, from Plato to Hegel.” This statement, which may be more a reflection of Updike than Kierkegaard — although it is certainly an aspect of SK’s thought — brings to mind Updike’s wonderful early story, “Pigeon Feathers,” in which the teenage protagonist undergoes a crisis of faith brought on by reading H.G. Wells’ Outline of History and is confronted by the flimsy idealism of his parents and the pastor of his church.

2. Margaret Talbot’s profile of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (p. 40). Talbot takes a few potshots, but overall it is a very detailed, illuminating and not entirely unsympathetic look at Scalia. I laughed out loud at this snippet:

Scalia evinces an almost absurdist delight in the sense and sound of words. When Justice Souter told a lawyer that he wanted to ask a “sort of complementary question,” Scalia had to interrupt to ask, “Is that with an ‘i’ or an ‘e’?” When Kennedy characterized a lawyer’s argument as “Gothic jurisprudence,” Scalia interjected dryly, “Rococo, I think.”

This week’s New Yorker seems to be bereft of anything of much interest, but the cover cartoon of Randy Johnson in his new Yankees uniform is pretty good stuff.


  1. Soren Kierkegaard says

    Luther, you have a huge responsibility, for when I look more closely, I see more and more clearly that you toppled the Pope only to enthrone ‘the public’ (XI I A 108).

  2. Jonathan Webb says

    Also recommended, “Scalia Dissents:Writings of the Supreme Court’s Wittiest, Most Outspoken Justice” by Kevin A. Ring.

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