Monday, June 30, 2008

American Century intellect

There’s much one can say about the iconoclastic philosopher Mortimer Adler - the complex, driven brilliant co-creator of Great Books and of the all-knowledge totalizing ultra-simplifying encyclopedia (The Synopticon) that was a child or grandchild of Great Books that Adler edited with the support of the president of the University of Chicago, Robert Maynard Hutchins. I won’t say even a fraction of what I could about Adler, who has long fascinated me.

For now I will just repeat the wonderful (and mean-spirited but perhaps accurate) phrase James T. Farrell once used to describe Adler: “a provincial Torquemada.”

quoted by Leo Gurko in “The Angry Decade,” p. 127.