The writing in the dust cover of David Brook’s The Social Animal concludes with these words ” The Social Animal is a moving and nuanced intellectual adventure, a story of achievement and a defense of progress. Impossible to put down, it is an essential book for our time. ”
That brief summary, though accurate, misses thousands of emotion packed paragraphs and words that help the reader understand the human condition and the conscious but more importantly the unconscious actions and perceptions of the human mind. You will ask yourself time and again, ” Is that me?”
You may keep turning back to the cover just to check if David Brooks wrote this book! That is not criticism but rather a joyful revelation into the depth of a writer whom I have always admired but on a more superficial level. The Social Animal, among all he has written , is in my view the most profound of his literary accomplishments.
It is sheer brilliance that Brook’s enlightens the reader on the evolution of human emotion , combines theory with impeccable research and tells the story in the narrative of the lives of two very different people, Erica and Harold. Just when the facts and scientific detail becomes almost overwhelming, Erica and Harold reappear and alas reality, at the breakfast table , the office, in bed. I see now! I get it!
Here is my The Social Animal index but do not look for page numbers. You will make the discoveries yourself. Love, Sex, Marriage, Children, Pride, Fear, Career, Egos, Bosses, Corporations, Politics, Glass Ceilings, Retirement, Aging, God.
During your The Social Animal journey you may quip to yourself, ” Am I reading Dr. Spock or Alvin Toffler? Did David McCulloch ghost write a paragraph or two? Is this book auto-biographical?”
I have sent a fatherly note to all of my children titled ” Command Performance” which is usually a reference to appearances at holiday dinners. This command is to read The Social Animal!
I was moved to leave you with a few lines from the last page of The Social Animal . Erica and Harold are in the autumn of their years and Harold is near death. Brooks writes, “In his last moments there were neither boundaries nor features. He was unable to wield the power of self-consciousness but was also freed from its shackles. He made some gestures and twitches, which the doctors would call involuntary but which in this case were more deeply felt than any other gesture could be. And one of them was a long squeeze of the hand, which Erica took to mean goodbye. What had been there at the start was there at the end, the tangle of sensations, perceptions, drives, and needs that we call, antiseptically, the unconscious. “