Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Adam Gopnik Insight

Adam Gopnik is one of may favorite writers. He primarily writes essays, and some criticism. His collection, "From Paris to the Moon" was a best-seller, but I liked best the first piece by him I ever read, a memoir in the New Yorker magazine of his analysis by a traditional Freudian, a German from the old world, stern, reticent, deep, oracular.

As time went on, and it became clear that their relationship was near its final end, he finally shared with Mr. Gopnik the closest thing to an answer, a conclusion, that Mr. Gopnik could ever hope to extract from the old man. "After all," he said, "life has many worthwhile aspects." That's it? Worthwhile aspects? Many? Mr. Gopnik's inital reaction was indignance, incredulity, a sense of so much labor for such a small prize.

And yet, if you look at the subsequent career of Adam Gopnik the author, it appears he took the old man's advice to heart in the end. Because his work is brilliant, in that it makes no pretense to be more than it is. It is nothing more, or less, than beautifully written descriptions of the friendships he made among waiters in Paris, the books he's read and the art he's enjoyed, the amusing, graceful thoughts that pass through his mind -- in short, some of life's worthwhile aspects.

Why do I mention this now? because learning the law involves hard work and tedium, conformity to absurd instructions ("Be Sheep! Be Sheep!" our Bar/Bri intructors keep exhorting us), and the same lack of closure that plagued Mr. Gopnik's analysis. You can memorize hundreds of rules and thousands of exceptions, but you still don't really know anything. And yet. And yet. . . it has many worthwhile. . . aspects.


Blogger Helen said...

love to my sheep. baa. Keep up the good work (and blogging). ILY. H.

7:21 AM  

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