Sunday, April 30, 2006

note from the underground

I had sworn off blogging till I finish all my schoolwork. But this obituary of John Kenneth Galbraith was 2 Good 2 let pass without my remarking.

The obituary is excellent and inspiring and awe-inspiring, too. An earnest, wry, scary smart liberal-- gotta love it. Everything he did was OTT. just his physical statute 80 inches tall (tried to enlist in the army during WWII but was rejected for his height) and near-century-long lifespan are daunting. The obit's best when it showcases JKG's wit:

A major influence on him was the caustic social commentary he found in [Thorstein] Veblen's [19th century] "Theory of the Leisure Class." Mr. Galbraith called Veblen one of American history's most astute social scientists, but also acknowledged that he tended to be overcritical.

"I've thought to resist this tendency," Mr. Galbraith said, "but in other respects Veblen's influence on me has lasted long. One of my greatest pleasures in my writing has come from the thought that perhaps my work might annoy someone of comfortably pretentious position. Then comes the realization that such people rarely read."

One more thing--I just discovered this character named Francois de La Rouchefoucauld, a 17th century French memoirist. But his real passion was maxims; he spent years polishing them to perfect pure gems. See here.

He's a Maxim Master. Or Master Maxim. Or a Maximizer. Or Master Maximizer.

Back to paper.


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