David Brooks weighs in on the latest data regarding marriage. The poor man. I know of no one who is more tied in knots over contemporary notions of autonomy than is Brooks.

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Jeffrey Polet
Jeffrey Polet grew up in an immigrant household in the immigrant town of Holland MI. After twenty years of academic wandering he returned to Holland and now teaches political science at Hope College, where he also grudgingly serves as chair of the department, having unsuccessfully evaded all requests. In the interim, he continues to nurture quirky beliefs: Division III basketball is both athletically and morally superior to Division I; the Hope/Calvin rivalry is the greatest in sports; the lecture is still the best form of classroom instruction; never buy a car with less than 100,000 miles on it; putts will still lip out in heaven; bears are the incarnation of evil; Athens actually has something to do with Jerusalem; and Tombstone is a cinematic classic. His academic work has mirrored his peripatetic career. Originally trained at the Catholic University of America in German philosophy and hermeneutical theory, he has since gravitated to American Political Thought. He still occasionally writes about European thinkers such as Michel Foucault or the great Max Weber, but mostly is interested in the relationship between theological reflection and political formation in the American context. In the process of working on a book on John Marshall for The Johns Hopkins University Press, he became more sensitive to the ways in which centralized decision-making undid local communities and autonomy. He has also written on figures such as William James and the unjustly neglected Swedish novelist Paer Lagerkvist. A knee injury and arthritis eliminated daily basketball playing, and he now spends his excess energy annoying his saintly wife and their three children, two of whom are off to college. Expressions of sympathy for the one who remains can be posted in the comments section. He doesn’t care too much for movies, but thinks opera is indeed the Gesamtkuntswerk, that the music of Gustav Mahler is as close as human beings get to expressing the ineffable, that God listens to Mozart in his spare time, and that Bach is history’s greatest genius.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Well, he certainly seems to be offering rationalization for what is, rather than analyzing what might be optimal, and why. Generally, when traditional social groups and mutual obligations break up, they have ceased to fulfill a beneficial purpose. It betrays a hefty dose of hubris to assume that we will never form stable, sustaining mutual obligations again out of the current drift.

  2. Isn’t this satire, on the order of “A Modest Proposal”? It only makes sense as such.

  3. Not far from here, there is a little chapel left over from an abandoned monastery, kept up and open to the public if one knows which little backwoods store has the key. Having read the Brooks’ article linked supra, I believe that I will go there and pray in solitude against the loneliness which lurks beneath the anti-culture which Brooks embraces. Where there is loneliness there can be no solitude.

  4. Brooks attempts to divine sense from an utterly senseless culture and so finds himself haunting many a cul-de-sac. Please allow me to forward you a membership form to the “If David Brooks is a Conservative, I’m a 15′ tall Amazonian Hemaphrodite Society”. Meetings are infrequent, generally tart and there are always whiskey and cigar cauterization on hand to treat resulting wounds.

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