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Van der Leun on America, childhood, and cookies

Posted by Richard on April 13, 2006

I’m in awe — simply in awe — of Gerard Van der Leun. I strongly recommended his Watcher’s Council winner, On the Return of History, the other day. Today, I urge you to go and savor a very different, but equally worthy, post of his entitled Higher Education and the Holy Cookie. It’s an elegiac, evocative, and charming essay about childhood and growing up, sibling rivalry, parental love, and the development of character.

It ends with an important lesson and a cookie recipe. It begins thus:

SO ISOLATIONIST IS AMERICA that when confronted with questions of great pith and moment, we immediately turn to questions of great and persistent triviality. In some ways this underscores the bedrock of the country’s greatness. No other country in history, nor any other country you can imagine, has the capacity to win a pocket war on the other side of the globe, play patty-cake with global terrorism, launch a fierce and bitter cultural and political argument at home, pull the global economy upward like The Little Engine That Could chanting "I think I can, I think I can," all while driving a couple radio-controlled web cams across the surface of Mars just to get some snapshots of rocks. Then we all go out to the Food Court, select from any one of the world’s six leading cuisines and try to remember both where we parked and in which one of the family’s seven vehicles we came in.

After that we turn our attention, not to whether or not we shall bomb Iran (We had an election and chose a President based on who we thought would do what needs to be done, remember? ), but on … the much more important and utterly American question: "Just what is the finest chocolate chip cookie in the known universe?"

From that marvelous beginning (damn, I wish I could write like that), it just gets better and better. Go. Read. Treasure. If you have the time, browse around the place. The man can write. And think.

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