In Frederick Exley’s excellent A Fan’s Notes, the narrator describes how he set out to read a long list of great books from 1800 to the present but ended up never getting too far into the moderns because he found the pre-moderns’ — especially Dostoevsky’s and Hawthorne’s — treatment of human psychology so much more fascinating. Who needs Freud when you’ve Goodman Brown and the underground guy?
I thought of this when I was reading that dumb Walter Kirn piece about how shooting guns changes your neural pathways. Contemporary political analysts — especially but not exclusively Bobo — blab on endlessly about neural pathways and using neuroscience (or what they think of as neuroscience) to understand what motivates humans. But they rarely bother to ask simple obvious questions like this one:
If you were a GOP leader, and every time you were intransigent the Beltway blamed Obama’s failure to lead, would you be less intransigent?
— Michael Grunwald (@MikeGrunwald) February 26, 2013