what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

going out in style

OK removing myself from the Amazon tentacles in true masochistic style – with 24 books waiting for me in about 8 separate packages and delivered to my long-suffering neighbours in the past week.
Among them the fascinating biography Worldly Philosopher – the odyssey of Albert O Hirschmann one of my intellectual heroes -
  Hirschman was a schoolboy in Berlin but forced to leave (for Paris) in April 1933 by the Nazi threat. He spent his career in constant motion. After studies in Paris and doing graduate training in London and Italy, fighting in Spain, and spending the first part of the war in France, he left for the United States, by which point he had begun to lose track of his own movements. “This makes my fourth—or is it fifth?—emigration,” he wrote to his mother. He accepted a fellowship at Berkeley (where he met the woman he would marry, Sarah Chapiro, another émigré), did a tour of duty for the O.S.S. in North Africa and Europe, and, with the war concluded, served a stint at the Federal Reserve Board, where he grew so unhappy that he would return home to his wife and two daughters in Chevy Chase, shut the door to his study, and bury himself in Kafka. He worked for the Marshall Plan in Washington, providing, Adelman says, “the thinking behind the thinking,” only to be turned down for a transfer to Paris because of a failed national-security review. He was in his mid-thirties. On a whim, he packed up the family and moved to Bogotá, Colombia, where he worked on a project for the World Bank. He crisscrossed the country with, Adelman writes, “pen in hand and paper handy, examining irrigation projects, talking to local bankers about their farm loans, and scribbling calculations about the costs of road building.”
Writing to her parents about the family’s decision to move to Colombia, which was then in the midst of a civil war, Sarah explained, “We both realize that you should think of the future—make plans for the children etc. But I think we both somehow feel that it is impossible to know what is best and that the present is so much more important—because if the present is solid and good it will be a surer basis for a good future than any plans that you can make.” Most people would not have left a home in Chevy Chase and the security of a job in Washington to go to a Third World country where armed gangsters roamed the streets, because they would feel certain that Colombia was a mistake. Hirschman believed, as a matter of principle, that it was impossible to know whether Colombia would be a mistake. As it happened, the four years the family spent in Bogotá were among its happiest. Hirschman returned to Latin America again and again during his career, and what he learned there provided the raw material for his most brilliant work. His doubt was a gift, not a curse.
 Tony Judt's "Thinking the 20th Century" makes a marvellous copunterpoint to the Hirschmann biography.

Also in the packages was the massive art tome on Stanley Spencer by Keith Bell. ; and Edward Thomas's "Annotated Collected Poems"

No comments:

Post a Comment