John Gardner at Home

Tribute from Ben Zipursky

Hi John.

Having learned that you are unwell, I searched my email to find your address (and found an email from last year with a flyer attached). Seeing the flyer for your book reminded me that I have not taken the opportunity to comment on the book. I enjoyed it, even putting aside the fact that it reminded me how late my own book with John Goldberg is. Both in your talks on torts leading up to the book and in the book itself, I see a certain kind of sympathy with what might be called ordinary middle-class values -- being attached both to what one has and to the fact that one has it. I confess that I am attracted to the effort to understand what is good in personal life in a way that is consistent with an ordinary life being a good life, since that is what almost all of us has, and it does not seem crazy to take seriously one's convictions, from time to time, that it is good (indeed, I think it is problem not to do so). I can more easily state a related point: liberals in the U.S., the U.K., and other western countries really do have an "eliteness" or "out of touch" problem in the way they (we, I suppose) look at things, and there is little more important (politically), in my view, than shearing away that arrogance so we can surmount the understandable resentment it has evidently created among our fellow Americans or Brits.

No doubt I am painting with too broad a brush, but my sense is that love of common sense and the ordinary (a great Scottish philosophical tradition) is part of where you were going with your book.

In any event, I took to email not to share my predictable political whining, but to wish you well. I understand from mutual friends that your health has become a very great challenge. I can, of course, only hope and wish you the very best. I do have friends in our generation who have somehow made it through what I believe are similarly daunting situations, but I am sure the effort itself is overwhelming.

Know that my best wishes are with you,