On Darwin, Lincoln, and modern life

Struggling to fall asleep last night with this nasty cold-flu thing that has me in its grips for the past several days, I happened upon the Charlie Rose Show on PBS. I’m not a regular viewer of this show, what with Rose’s penchant for giving so much air time to that airhead pundit Thomas Friedman (64 appearances!!! really need that much hot air, Charlie?!). But Rose does get some excellent guests from time to time, and provides space for a deeper conversation than the typical tv talk-show – one has to give him that! And last night was just such an occasion, for Charlie had on the New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik, discussing his latest work: “Angels and Ages: A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life”, which sounds absolutely fascinating. I was pleased to discover just now that the Charlie Rose show offers entire programs online, allowing me to embed this interview below. The first half is what really gripped me, with Gopnik talking about Darwin and Lincoln — men born in a cosmic coincidence on February 12, 1809 — as embodying the twin pillars of the modern world: science and liberal democracy. So true! This is really well worth listening to when both these figures loom so large in our consciousness in this month of their bicentennial. The second half is about a more recent interesting figure, the late writer John Updike. Here, watch the whole thing:

Now I’ve got one more “short” book to add to my reading pile – terrific!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *