Thursday, February 21, 2013


I hurt my back at the gym yesterday and ended up on my back most of the day. I listened to Rousseau's The Social Contract (1762), recorded by LibriVox. The readers are a mixed lot, not as good as the Discourse on the Arts and Sciences. Still, a good way to spend the day when I could barely walk and found it difficult to read in a prone position.

About a year ago I took the above picture, because the advertisement reflects what I have noticed about European tourists in New York. One used to be able to tell Germans apart from the French or the Scandinavians, the Spanish from the Italians, and so on. Germans do wear strange eyeglasses, not to mention their color sense is really weird, but nowadays Europeans are practically indistinguishable. Rousseau seems to have made a similar observation, according to David A. Bell (writing in The New Republic):

"Rousseau loathed cosmopolitanism, and believed in the deliberate cultivation of national identity. In one of his lesser political works, he lamented the fact that 'today, no matter what people may say, there are no longer any Frenchmen, Germans, Spaniards, or even Englishmen; there are only Europeans. All have the same tastes, the same passions, the same manners [ ...] all talk of the public welfare, and think only of themselves.'"

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