I have a section of wall space in my living room where I hang black and white portraits of people that I think had genius and did something with it. I need to make a new space for Tony Judt; who lost his battle with ALS earlier this month.
“The historian’s task is not to disrupt for the sake of it, but it is to tell what is almost always an uncomfortable story and explain why the discomfort is part of the truth we need to live well and live properly,” he told Historically Speaking. “A well-organized society is one in which we know the truth about ourselves collectively, not one in which we tell pleasant lies about ourselves.”
In a few pieces I’ve written lately, and a few that I’ve had wondering around in my head, I felt a vague notion of something. I felt if I kept writing I might close in on it eventually. Then I picked up Judt’s Ill Fares the Land, and there it was in the very first sentence; “Something is profoundly wrong with the way we live today.” It’s a little annoying when you find the ideas that you had been planning to write about, already written about — especially when they wrote it so much better than you ever would have been able to.
Everyone, everywhere should read this book…now!