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May 09, 2005

I'm Late! I'm Late!

I have been a bad guest blogger so far, since (as I told Lindsay when I agreed to do this) I spent the weekend getting acquainted with my new nephew, now about two and a half weeks old (and unbelievably cute.) I love kids; at this stage, I tend to be fascinated by the question: what on earth is it like to try, with that endearing total earnestness that infants have, to figure out an entirely new world without the benefit of an already existing mind to help you out? I love trying to figure out new languages and cultures; what on earth would it be like to try to work out an entire world, from scratch? How kids manage this is a complete mystery to me, but I can spend hours watching them try.

Whenever I do, after a few hours of lying down with a perplexed infant snuggled on top of me, I find myself wondering: and how on earth would I be thinking about this if I hadn't read Rousseau? Rousseau was admittedly a jerk, and insane, and of course he did give up his own kids. But he was also one of the most insightful thinkers about kids ever. He thought, for instance, that the origin of idolatry is the fact that when an infant wants an object and screams at it to come, it generally does. That thought alone, with its mixture of insight and sheer oddness, is worth the price of admission all by itself.

(cross-posted at Obsidian Wings.)

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Comments

But you more than made up for it with this post. I'm off to try to find my yellowed/cracked pages of paperback Rousseau. Thanks.

You are the only of the guest bloggers I knew about before Lindsay went off. Glad you arrived. I mainly know you for your TortureBlogging, so I was relieved that your first post was about something nice.

It really is amazing to watch babies learn. They're at it full time. No wonder new parents get so caught up in the minutiae of what new thing their kid did today. I remember noticing when my neice started to be able to decide to look at something. And watching her learn to walk -- what determination! Up and down, for hours, for days. And I really wish I remember what was so funny. Happy babies spend a lot of time giggling.

You are amazing writer. This is a masterpiece.

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