On the Intelligentsia
The dramas of our teens are private dramas, but the dramas of our twenties spill out to the stage, or are very willingly pushed there. I remember the “coming of age”, or going, from idea to idea, from one school of thought to the next view, always alert, always ready to betray, always chased on by the confusions I was feeling.
The library is so big, no angst will walk away empty-handed if you read widely enough and with the right care. Public ideas become private defences, you carry them, you wield them, you’ll fight — you will bite.
I haven’t encountered any idea in my life — not in libraries, not in conversation — that was made better by anyone at a war for it. I think about those who teach, those who live to lead, and to raise, the mother’s hand on our hot forehead. The note that there are many books on that shelf, you just happen to be screaming for one of them; that some are indeed better than others and those who know this should say, that a better one pushed on with too much force does more harm than a harmful one that’s examined calmly. That good things are obvious, people will know, that there’s an arena that’s civic and not personal, where people sit around and talk, where their good standing isn’t pressed between some ad hoc pages, and their intentions are not subject to panic. That there is freedom in the free ramble of human conversation, that it is more worth defending than any book.
I like the idea that one’s life is a work of art, we write on almost empty pages, after all. I think this is true for communities too, it must be, an ensemble piece, a symphony, and opera — with clenched teeth it would be hard to sing.