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Tuesday, August 23, 2011
A Point in Time: The Search for Redemption in This Life and the Next by David Horowitz
A Big Change of Pace for Horowitz
David Horowitz is best known as a fearless in-your-face political brawler. He will literally go anywhere to debate anyone about any political topic - the more strident the opponent, the better he seems to like it. My local news and talk station interviews Horowitz once a week and I have heard a great deal of those interviews over the years. Horowitz is a formidable debater - a partisan of the first rank. To be honest, it never occurred to me that Horowitz had another gear (which, of course, is silly - we all have other interests) so when I read the description of this short book I knew I had to check it out.
In A Point in Time: The Search for Redemption in This Life and the Next, Horowitz waxes philosophical on time, how things change in this world (or more properly, how nothing ever seems to change), the way dogs live their lives compared to the way people live their lives, the paradox of the fragility and strength of horses, how out history is not really "going" anywhere and how living in a world with no faith at all is worse than living in a world with follower that follow their faiths imperfectly.
Each of A Point in Time's three chapters have unique and overlapping perspectives. In the first chapter we are introduced to Horowitz's dogs - three little sparks of life that he enjoys immensely. He considers this to be an odd proposition because he is a relative latecomer to dog ownership. All dog owners know that every dog is unique and, sometimes, the best thing they can do for us is remind us to take joy in the moment.
From there, Horowitz moves to a quote from famed Stoic Marcus Aurelius, the "philosopher king" of the Roman Empire: "He who has seen present things has seen all, both everything that has taken place from all eternity and everything that will be for time without end..." Or, as King Solomon put it: "There is nothing new under the sun."
Horowitz's point here is not to dispute our technological advances. Instead, he is commenting that people have not changed, and life is essentially the same. This is part of a well documented dispute he has had with his father who was an avowed communist that believed the world was moving in a "forward march" toward a future workers' paradise because human nature would eventually change with the right guidance.
Horowitz moves on to Dostoevsky. As he puts it on page 35, "Dostoevsky understood the dilemma we face if our existence has no meaning." To put it simply, men need a higher power to inspire them or, if nothing else, make them fear divine judgment. This is a powerful thought from a confirmed agnostic.
Horowitz comments on a rug that President Obama had installed in the Oval Office that states in its stitching: The arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice." He questions that. How can it when the human species keeps doing the same awful things to one another that we have always done? Are we moving forward? Horowitz insists the answer is no. Instead, "The arc of the moral universe is indeed bent, but there is no one and no way to unbend it." (p. 101)
This is a melancholy work. Horowitz mourns the death of his daughter, muses on his own serious health problems and even notes that one of his beloved dogs is now too old to take long walks with him. He notes that people die before they have all of their loose ends tied up. His daughter died and left behind a great deal of unpublished writings. He gathered the best of them together in a collection for a posthumous work. So, he notes in the last line of this book, did Mozart. Mozart died while writing Requiem - even working on it the very day he died. Perhaps, that is enough - the very stoic concept of doing what is laid before you to do and not expecting the world to change.
I rate this book 4 stars out of 5.
Reviewed on August 22, 2011.
This book can be found on Amazon.com here: A Point in Time by David Horowitz.