The pleasures of secondary sources

Kierkegaard is a hard nut to crack, and I’ve picked up his work multiple times, only to put it down before long.

Still, he has had a profound impact on me as a person, almost exclusively through secondary sources. One of those sources is the lecture by Robert Solomon that I’ve embedded below.

Reading primary sources can be a real joy, and I consider myself a much more complete person for having studied through many of “the great books” in my college years and since.

But secondary sources, where other intelligent, insightful people synthesize and re-present the primary sources, are often more pleasurable and more impactful because they are more clear, and because the author has the standing to point out the significance of elements in the primary sources. I hope professors, teachers, and writers of history and popular science take heart.

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25 random things about me

Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things. I’m finally allowing myself to get sucked in…

  1. I specifically trim the corners of my beard because orthodox Jews are not supposed to. I somehow arrived at the understanding that that means that we goyim are supposed to.
  2. In an online debate, when I quote the text of someone’s post in a response, I correct typos and grammatical errors, to make them look more intelligent.
  3. Once, I went an entire year praying nothing except the Lord’s Prayer.
  4. My taste in beer has become less refined over time. I started out drinking nothing but microbrews and imports; now I get pretty excited about Old Milwaukee.
  5. I think “it is as if” is one of the most music phrases in our language.
  6. “Precisialmente” was my favorite word in Spanish, until I was told that it’s not a word, and I must have made it up.
  7. I think basketball is like ballet for guys.
  8. I can’t stand watching NBA games for the sole reason that the organ gets on my nerves.
  9. I have Michael Jordan’s 1991 Upper Deck baseball card.
  10. My mom used to work as a legal secretary for Phillies pitcher Mike Mussina’s father.
  11. I was at Mike Schmidt’s last baseball game. (EDIT: I lied. It turns out it was a night in his honor the season after he retired.)
  12. My favorite animal in the world is the blue shark.
  13. The one thing in the world that most hurts my soul is loss of habitat for wild animals.
  14. I read my horoscope most days and think about taking its advice. I’m a Cancer.
  15. About 30% of the time I am thinking about myself in the context of the cosmos.
  16. When I was eight, I used tire white-wall cleaner on my sneakers to try to impress a girl.
  17. I am utterly unimpressed by bruises. The skin has to break.
  18. I admire pompous asses but am afraid of being one.
  19. My favorite magazine is The Atlantic. My favorite food is ice cream.
  20. A sight I love more than anything is looking up through the leaves of a pin oak on a sunny day when the sky is deep blue.
  21. The two parts of my family heritage that I’m most proud of are Swedish ancestry and workers for the Pennsylvania Railroad.
  22. I do not have a favorite color or season. I like them all, in balance.
  23. My fingernails grow freakishly fast and strong. Women are jealous. I also have long eyelashes.
  24. I used to be a horrible speller. I had to work very hard at it. I still do. I use dictionary.com all the time.
  25. I used to live my life as if one day a biography would be written about me.
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