I try to keep my panegyrics limited to editors of my favorite journals.
Joseph Bottum, among other things relentless opponent of capital punishment, is one of the most well read people I've ever met. He gave a talk tonight called "Death and Politics." A title which he explained,
"I figured them Princeton kids are way too happy, and somebody's gotta show 'em the melancholy side of things before they get to thinking that life is all Ivy League and strawberry shortcake. So I picked the two most depressing topics I could think of."In his meditation on the place of death in our society (which too often has none) he quoted a host of philosophical, literary, poetic and political sources ranging from Antique to Medieval to Enlightenment to Modern times while (and here's the kicker) managing to still make sobering and worthwhile points.
I figured it must have been his notes - then in the question and answer session he kept quoting sources from across the history of civilization, from memory - while still making points. Afterwards I cornered him into something I thought I could speak semi-intelligently about... theology, but then he just quoted patristic passages and Scripture from memory - and still, those pesky points. All good ones too.
What were they? No time for that (subscribe to F.T.).