Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

So I’m sorry to have been MIA (or missing in laziness). I have to say I’m very moved by Carl’s last two posts. Joan Baez does have a beautiful voice, and I certainly agree that it’s all about non-bourgeois, non-pantheistic longings. If you click on Hugh Gillis’ link in the thread, you’ll hear her making a Dylan song better than it really is. If you stay on the YOU TUBE page, you can hear her making Leonard Cohen’s SUZANNE (I remember being obsessed with it for a while when it first came out 40+ years ago) better than it really is. Joan is also very beautiful, as Carl shows us too. George Grant is famous for having written that our techno-world is full of intimations of “deprival,” and we conservatives argue over what we’ve been deprived of. There’s something to Carl’s deep thought that if we attend to the ROMANCE of the Sixties, it might be the case that we’ve deprived of us less than you might think. Baez and Cohen (who does have his moments) are still around for us.

That, of course, leads us to Carl’s post on the romance of the St. John’s and the great books. I’m tempted to say that it’s guys like Carl that make St. John’s seem better than it really is. But it’s probably more accurate to say that St. John’s is less for nerds than for “romantic young boys” and girls full of longings that cry out to be “validated” by words. What’s always impressed me is the “diversity of outcomes” when it comes to the way St. John’s graduates have turned out. A lot of them fall in love with “philosophy” in various ways—including the great-souled way of Eva Brann. But more than you might think incline in the direction of discovering that LOGOS is personal and become Christian or Jewish. They all do agree with Carl that there’s a lot more TRUE ROMANCE in the library than we bourgeois and pantheistic Americans think. St. John’s, I was reminded last week by my Johnny ISI mentee, has fallen on hard times. Enrollment is off, and they apparently can’t afford to staff every seminar with two tutors. That’s bad news for the genuine diversity that is the best point about education in America. The main threat to that diversity, as I keep saying, is the imperative that all education become techno-vocational. On that point, I do agree with our Canadian friend George Grant.

I have to add that several Berry graduates have, like Carl, found TRUE ROMANCE in the St. John’s graduate program. In each case, their lives were enduringly changed for the better by higher education. That graduate program is excellent self-help for romantic young men and women who discover near the end of the undergraduate days that they’ve made the error of disconnecting their longings from their education.

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles