On Thursday, March 10th, 2016, I presented The Soul of a Nation: America as a Tradition of Inquiry and Nationhood at the Center for American Studies in Rome. Proff. Kevin Flannery SJ, Paolo Savarese, and Giorgio Salzano, my teachers, offered critical appraisal and appreciation of my effort, while I responded to their criticism and received their praise, all the while learning about the book I wrote, the country I love, and the way of life I have embraced.
It was an unmerited and unforgettable grace.
The video below (shot by my wife) contains a moment in which I respond to Fr. Flannery, SJ’s careful – even gently placed – criticism of my use of Plato, specifically my discovery of the idea that the city is a man writ large and society the cosmos in miniature, as a motive force and an ordering element in the forma mentis of the founding generation. It takes me a while to get into the issue – there was some work of gratitude to do – and I am confident I owe him more words on the subject, and better chosen ones – but no matter.
I also realize, having listened to my response, the debt I owe to Stanley Cavell – I seem to be channeling – almost parroting – him in a few moments (the audio is shaky – it was a big room and this was shot on a phone – but it sounds fine in a headset):