The Corner

Last Minute Labor Day Reading

Why Does the World Exist? by Jim Holt. The author interviews scientists and philosophers, theist and a-, and the author John Updike, in pursuit of an answer. Holt is earnest, unprejudiced and clear without being cutesy. I am halfway through and I suspect there will be no answer, but the quest is engaging.

Bonus: a great cover (a black and white shot of closing time at the Cafe de Flore, the old existentialist haunt).

N.B.: I know Holt, who once told me of a conference on linguistics he attended. A speaker was saying that while the double negative is a common affirmation in many languages, the double affirmative is nowhere used as a negation. From the hall came a world-weary Noo Yawk voice: “Yeah, yeah.”

Richard Brookhiser — Historian Richard Brookhiser is a senior editor of National Review and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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