Thursday, June 24, 2004

The Morality of Bourgeois Life

Norman Podhoretz just received the Medal of Freedom.

Podhoretz is featured in the great book, The Last Intellectuals: American Culture in the Age of Academe by Russell Jacoby.
Normal Podhoretz was "described as the "the most brilliant young critic of our day."

"In 1957 a twenty-seven-year-old Podhoretz touted the mature life against revolution and bohemia. "On the whole," he proclaimed, postwar America offered "a reasonably decent environment for the intellectual." This situation required a new intellectual garb since "the old style of 'alienation,' represented by commitment to the ideal of Revolution and an apartment in Greenwich Village" smacked of the 1930s. The 1950s called for a "new style of 'maturity,'" that assumed "the real adventure of existence was to be found not in radical politics or in Bohemia but in the 'moral life' of the individual ... in a world of adults."

For Podhoretz "the trick" was to "stop carping at life like a petulant adolescent" and get "down to the business of adult living as quickly as possible." This was not "conformity" but the realization that "the finest and deepest possibilities" of life could be found within 'bourgeois' society."

...He warns his son of a 'spiritual plague,' coursing through the nation's bloodstream, which attacks "the vital organs of the entire species, preventing men from fathering children and women from mothering them." To be adult, he tell his son, is to be a father. "There can be no abdication of responsibility more fundamental than the refusal of a man to become, and be, a mother."
I would add some commentary, but I'm rather busy with the kids today. Family life might one make more of an adult, but it sure interferes with writing.

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