Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

EMBARRAS DE RICHESSES


There was a young man in my Harvard College class ['54] who really got on everyone's nerves.  His name was David Shapiro.  He was absolutely brilliant, and picture book handsome.  But what really got under our skins was the fact that he was really, really a nice guy.  It didn't seem fair, somehow.  Sort of like Angelina Jolie, who in addition to being the most gorgeous woman in the world is also a committed activist for humanitarian causes.  I mean, why couldn't she just marry famous men, like Marilyn Monroe?

The French have a lovely phrase for this phenomenon.  They call it an embarras de richesses.  That must be the way the Obama campaign feels this morning.  The video of Mitt Romney's despicable comments to a closed door meeting of rich donors, coming on top of his ill-considered comments about the violence in Libya and Egypt, which in turn followed Clint Eastwood's world-class comedy routine at the Republican Convention, must leave the Obama campaign ad planners at a loss to know which disaster to feature in their thirty second spots.  Truly, an embarras de richesses.

Shapiro, by the way, after marrying a lovely woman whom I dated briefly, went on to become a distinguished Harvard Law professor, a leading expert on Civil Procedure who has, on occasion, generously offered support and encouragement to my son, Tobias, whose field is also Civil Procedure.  For that, I can forgive him anything.

7 comments:

James Camien McGuiggan said...

The translation, "embarrassment of riches", is surely an English phrase too, no?

P.S. You will see that I have learned how to attach my name to my comments. I am too young to be proud of this, but yet.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

It is just my pathetic attempt to appropriate to myslf a patina of sophistication that I do not genuinely possess.

James Camien McGuiggan said...

You must be American.

James Camien McGuiggan said...

I feel like that might be mean, even though it was meant in jest. I'll make up for it by mentioning that I read your blog even when you worry that no-one is reading it, and that I may not be alone in this because I use a subscription manager thing (Google Reader, you know, one of those RSS feed things) to do so, and that these RSS whatsits are actually common and I'm sure plenty others do the same thing; and that I wouldn't be surprised if your blog engine doesn't have the sophistication to realise that your blog's being read via RSS feeds as well as directly; in which case your readership will be higher than it appears.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Folks have mentioned these RSS feed things, but so far as I can make out, Google does not, or cannot, record them. [It must be "does not," since I suspect they know every breath that anyone anywhere takes.] Anyway, I am delighted that you read the blog.

Kent Schenkel said...

This is beside your point of course, but maybe it will dampen your crush on Ms. Jolie. It seems she's an Ayn Rand fan:

http://www.motherjones.com/media/2009/07/im-rand

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Now that was just downright mean, Kent. [ :) ] I am an old man, with few enough pleasures left. Let me keep my secret fantasies of Ms. Jolie. Susan Sarandon is still a progressive, right? She is more my age bracket anyway. I just saw her in ARBITRAGE and she was great.