Recent links of note:
Sol Stern, City Journal
The Manhattan Institute fellow Sol Stern is a notable member of the crop of commentators who began their careers on the radical Left before drifting toward conservatism in the decades following the 1960s. Writing today in City Journal, Stern reflects on the recently-passed radical Tom Hayden: Stern’s bombastic former ally in the Leftist cause who never quite repudiated the harsh anti-patriotism and incitement of his own youth. Stern presents a laundry list Hayden’s sins: open collaboration with the North Vietnamese, organizing and amplifying riots from Newark to Chicago, and drawing up a Black Panthers scheme to shoot down a police helicopter—none of which was any obstacle to Hayden going on to gain elected office and the esteem of the Democratic Party. Stern’s account of Hayden’s teflon reputation might remind readers of Gary Saul Morson’s aphorism in a September 2016 essay in The New Criterion: “Being leftwing means never having to say you’re sorry.”
Peter E. Gordon, The New York Review of Books
The musings of Søren Kierkegaard have had an influence well beyond the confines of philosophy; poets like Auden and Rilke considered his writings to be closer to their own art form than to the craft of Hegel and Heidegger, and Samuel Barber set four of Kierkegaard’s prayers to song in an under-appreciated cantata. And yet, as Peter E. Gordon of Harvard points out in a recent essay in the New York Review of Books, Kierkegaard himself would never have described his philosophy as an art form at all, despite its deeply romantic tenor. The Danish philosopher applied his ideas as a strict code of conduct that demanded full withdrawal from the world, and most poignantly, from his own fiancée at the age of twenty-eight. Although the concept of bold individualism has become a cliché in our day, Gordon’s piece allows us to envision an era in which it took Kierkegaard’s level of resolve to truly stand apart.
On Joshua Bell, with Alessio Bax, at Alice Tully Hall.