Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mary Gabriel

Mary Gabriel's Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution is a 2011 National Book Award Finalist.

From her interview by Megan Gilbert:

Megan Gilbert: Love and Capital illuminates the private family life of Karl Marx. How do you think the professional lives of great thinkers are influenced by their private lives?

Mary Gabriel: The majority of men and women live at least two lives, which they strive to keep separate in order to do justice to both. We are one person with our family and assume another face—sometimes another personality—in our professional life. But that separation is an illusion. The joys and sorrows and preoccupations of one life inevitably spill over into the other.

This intrusion through the barrier we have so carefully constructed results in a simple distraction for most of us; an inexplicable smile or a furrowed brow. What it means, however, is that for the space of that smile or frown we are giving less to the task at hand. Again, most of us can afford that lost moment. But for the great thinker, who above all else seeks clarity of mind in order to create, any distraction of whatever magnitude can cost something much bigger than a moment: It can cost an idea. At best, that idea is altered. At worst, it is lost. There are few things more fragile than thought.

I would venture to guess that less than a handful (if that many) of the men and women we would call great thinkers have lived such a cloistered existence that their private lives did not impinge upon their professional ones. It seems clear then that the ideas we have come to celebrate from men such as Marx are the result of long study and careful deliberation, but that such ideas are also inevitably affected by the personal tumult, the daily circumstances around them.

When, as in the case of Marx, a great thinker's personal life is one of poverty, ill-health, and family tragedy, his or her ideas must be...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue