Saturday, July 30, 2016

Rousseau and Trump?

I was enjoying this essay in the New Yorker which argues that the origins of the anti-elitism of Trump supporters can be found in Rousseau (although I would have appreciated an explanation as to how - apart from stupidity - they can pin their hopes on a member of the pretty elite club known as "American billionaires"), when this paragraph came out of the blue:
Rousseau’s denunciations of intellectuals may have acquired an extra edge from the fact that Voltaire exposed him, in an anonymous pamphlet, as a hypocritical proponent of family values: someone who consigned all five of his children to a foundling hospital. Rousseau’s life manifested many such gaps between theory and practice, to put it mildly. A connoisseur of fine sentiments, he was prone to hide in dark alleyways and expose himself to women. More commonly, he was given to compulsive masturbation while sternly advising against it in his writings.
This makes me want to re-read Paul Johnson's chapter about him in Intellectuals - where I am sure I would have read about his kids before, but don't know if it covered his, shall we say, sexual issues.  

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