Every time a bell rings…

It has come to my attention that the Big M does not like being drawn as Homer Simpson. Therefore, I have re-cast in his role the fetchingly handsome and charming Jimmy Stewart.

True, the Big M does not weigh 160 pounds or stammer when he gets angry, but otherwise I think it’s a good fit. He regularly talks people down from ledges (in a metaphorical preventing a run on the Building & Loan kind of way) and he does what’s right even when it isn’t easy (which is most of the time). He’s the bravest man I know, and I admire him more than Jefferson Smith or the man who shot Liberty Valance. I’ve got my own personal George Bailey, and I’m grateful for it.

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See? Can’t you just feel the love when Jimmy Stewart yells, “Nerd!” in a Homer Simpson voice?

Now that I’ve cleared that up, let’s move on to what I’m reading.

In case you were wondering, it’s not Plato. But it is related to that. I like to call myself a “tangential reader” – meaning that I frequently get led off on tangents when something I’m reading strikes a chord with me.

The tangent I’ve recently been led off onto is related to Allan Bloom. Dr. Bloom was a professor of political philosophy at the University of Chicago, a university known for its classics program. His translation of Plato’s Republic is the one I’m using. (And I’m through Book 6, thank you very much.) Anyway, it turns out that Dr. Bloom wrote a best-seller about how universities in the United States no longer provide an education that teaches the youth of America to think and to understand the great thinkers. It was called “The Closing of the American Mind.

That’s not what I’m reading. Not yet, anyway. It’s on my shortlist.

Coincidentally, Dr. Bloom was great friends with the Nobel-prize-winning writer Saul Bellow. After Bloom’s death, Bellow wrote a memoir-disguised-as-a-novel about his friend called “Ravelstein.” I just finished-it-this-morning. (I like hyphens. And parentheses. And sentence fragments.)

I came away with a couple of impressions of Ravelstein/Bloom: he was crazy brilliant and he was a cult of personality. His students were not just students, they were disciples. Where he led, they followed, and they continued to seek his input 30 or 40 years after leaving the university. Some became high-ranking officials in government or in business, and Ravelstein/Bloom influenced the world through them.

There was a third impression I got: Saul Bellow loved him. His novel was a testament to friendship. That reminds me of what Clarence the guardian angel told Mr. Bailey, “Remember, George: no man is a failure if he has friends.”

I love that.

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Categories: Brain Workouts

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