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Showing posts from January 9, 2022

observations on observations of a non-political man

  Thomas Mann, in his crazed Observations of a non-political man – one of the most percipient conservative texts of the 20 th century – coined a beautiful phrase to describe a vocational community: solidarity of conscience. Alas, an economic theory based on self-interest has little time for what any observer of ordinary life picks up: a sense of the integrity of work. That integrity, for Mann, was about writing as an art. But you see the same spirit of integrity among carpenters, lawyers, janitors, engineers, etc. The motivations, here, are trans-individual – hence the solidarity. There are audiences and peers with whom one feels – the agent, the writer, the janitor – feels some sympathetic correspondence. Even if the peer is an enemy – or especially if the peer is an enemy. This is where everything becomes tricky. In the passage where Mann introduces the notion of solidarity of conscience, he knows that he has been flailing – that he has been attributing the cruelest motives to his e

Patience and time

  I am continually finding out things about all humanity when I talk to Adam. Of course, all humanity laughs at me and keeps most of its secrets; I have to tip my hat to all humanity for that. But Adam, being nine, and myself, being sixty-four, make a dialogic partnership that is, although as absurd as any other parental relationship, full of meat for the moralist. For instance, take the issue of patience. For Adam, patience is simply the waiting room of boredom. Or rather, not the waiting room, but the very office, the execution of the painful business that is always done in offices, and the desire to be anywhere else that comes from being a patient. The patient as sufferer and patience as suffering, for him, are self-evidently linked. For myself, on the other hand, patience is a discipline that one must have to be, well, ethically and existentially right. Patience lies in that grey zone between affect and habit, between cognition and bodily resignation, and it is difficult to put on