Monday, June 6, 2011

The most amiable author

The Kritian Boy

For two weeks now Book TV (C-Span 2 when the House of Representatives is not in session, and every weekend) has invited listeners to send in their current choices for Summer Reading.  The most astonishing variety of readers choose a book that I, too, have read with great pleasure, by everyone's favorite conservative, David Brooks, The Social Animal.  It is not original, ground-breaking neuro-science and social science.  It is just awfully well done and perfectly candid without being ickily confessional.  It is just like himself, whether writing columns or talking with Jim Lehrer and Mark Shields every Friday on PBS.  I enjoyed it so much that I read it in two sittings.
What is it, though, that I like so much about David Brooks?
I realized that it is his recalling a face that I've known for more than sixty years, indeed in the same photograph that is older than I am.
It is the face of that most candid and kaloskagathos from the Athenian Acropolis, the Kritian Boy, which may actually be Kritian, if you agree that it resembles the head of Harmodios, the young Tyrant-Slayer.
How can one possibly not like and trust a man who, in middle age (he is the same age as our President Obama), has all the candor of that most open-faced of all adolescent Athenians?
Besides, may I take this occasion to recommend his book, The Social Animal, to you all?  It is unpretentious and utterly free of malice.