David Brooks opines on Tom Wolfe’s latest novel (I Am Charlotte Simmons). I started reading it this weekend. How could I resist? It’s by Wolfe, perhaps the greatest sociologist of our age, and it’s about college life, with a lot of drinking and even more sex. By the way, I bet there is no need for chocolates in the whole novel, but Ill keep my eyes open. A couple of paragraphs from Brooks:
" [The novel] is about a young woman who leaves Sparta, a small town in North Carolina, and enters an elite university. She finds all the rules of life there are dissolved: the rules of courtship, the rules of decorum and polite conversation.
The social rules have dissolved because the morality that used to undergird them dissolved long ago. Wolfe sprinkles his book with observations about how the word ’immoral’ now seems obsolete, about how sophisticated people now reject the idea of absolute evil, about a hypermaterialistic neuroscience professor who can use the word ’soul’ only when it is in quotation marks.
Wolfe describes a society in which we still have vague notions about good and bad, virtue and vice, but the moral substructure that fits all those concepts together has been washed away. Everybody is left swirling about in a chaotic rush of desire and action, without a coherent code to make sense of it all."