Now I request the books whose reviews interest me from the library and purchase the ones I loved. Inevitably these requests mean waiting for months, and then of course they all show up at the same time. Thus, I am currently alternating between American Philosophy - a Love Story and White Trash: a History of Class in the United States. Both are excellent and are as interesting as their titles might suggest.
The first, written by a young philosopher, has as its ostensible focus an overview of American philosophy from Emerson to Coleridge to William James (so far - I’m only half way through) in the context of their classical and European influences. Kaag writes well enough to make American pragmatism clear and sensible, something I could not say for my philosophy courses in university. The charm of the book, however, is not only the setting - an abandoned library filled with precious and historically important books which Kaag is permitted to catalogue - but the emerging love story which is nurtured within its walls. I must say that it’s the first philosophy book I have ever eagerly returned to.
White Trash drew my interest largely because of the surprising outcome of the recent U.S. election; the concept of “populism” is postulated on the existence an angry and unacknowledged under-class. Again, it is extremely well written, although a far more academic piece than the first book - with 150 pages of end-notes. Meticulously historical, it begins by making the case that the colonies (and this would include Canada, of course) were conceived as receptacles for the mother country’s human “trash,” who would then function as the raw materials - tools even - for the creation of wealth to be rechannelled back across the ocean. Nothing much surprises me any more, but it seems I severely underestimated the crassness of the entitled. And I’m only into the 1600’s.
Lest you think of me as pondering great thoughts in an ivory tower, I offer this photo of the real reason I am reading so much this month. In this closeup of our dog, you can spot my shoes in the mid-distance. Theodore, who seems to have no conception of how small and how short a lap dog should be, scales my legs when I sit down “for a minute” and promptly begins to snore. What is a girl to do when an enchanting guy falls asleep in her arms? I am learning to plop down only where there is a book handy. Even though the focal distance is challenging, seeing as I have to prop the book on Theodore’s back, time passes and both of us are pretty danged happy.
Yay for libraries and dogs!!