The Person Is Always Becoming

Everyone in the Western world writes from left to right, so Michael Novak’s title is more cute than revealing.  The subtitle, on the other hand, makes a claim: that he moved from at one point in his life being a liberal to an admission that, sometime before he reached his present octogenarian state, he was willing to take on the burdensome label of conservative.  My sainted aunt, who did everything she could to mold me into a New Deal progressive, also used to paraphrase many wise people by saying to me, “A man who is not liberal before the age of 30 has no heart; and a man who is not a conservative after 30 has no brain.”  Michael Novak tries to show us, in this engaging memoir, that he had both a heart and a brain when he was writing left, and when he was writing right.

The flow of this intellectual autobiography is from left to right, and “I revisit the lessons I learned the hard way.”

Events and facts forced me to change my mind about the ideas with which my education imbued me, eager pupil that I was.  I worked out my changes of mind publicly in articles and books.  As my new direction became clear, I lost many close friends.  My phone stopped ringing.  Angry letters from dear friends pleaded with me to desist.  I was shunned at professional meetings, even by the closest of old colleagues.  Some refused...

Join now to access the full article and gain access to other exclusive features.

Get Started

Already a member? Sign in here