Toynbee, the Court, and the sweep of History

“In London in the southern section of the Buckingham Palace Road, walking southward along the pavement skirting the west wall of Victoria Station, the writer, once, one afternoon not long after the end of the First World War – he had failed to record the exact date – had found himself in communion, not just with this or that episode in History, but with all that had been, and was, and was to come. In that instant he was directly aware of the passage of History gently flowing through him in a mighty current, and of his own life welling like a wave in the flow of this vast tide.”

So did Arnold J. Toynbee describe his almost spiritual union with History. And so it was with me and the rich tapestry of two centuries of Supreme Court decisions. The mere mention of the Supreme Court by Katie Couric triggered a flood of thoughts and associations within me, like the madeleine in À la recherche du temps perdu (incidentally, do not waste your time with the various English translations; nothing can compare to Proust’s original prose). In an instant my mind was saturated by the vicissitudes of our highest court’s past: key precedents, long-dead Justices, blistering dissents, the watershed 5-4 decisions, the rise of judicial review, the debate over “original intent.” I paused for a moment of reflection, mesmerized by this astonishing legacy of jurisprudence.

I kept my thoughts to myself, as instructed. But even so… Cite a single decision? It would be akin to citing a single publication I read.

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5 Responses to “Toynbee, the Court, and the sweep of History”

  1. Sue Donym Says:

    Bless you, what a tragedy – your writing is like having a gift for rhyme and meter in a world where only blank verse proves one’s poetic powers. And you apply it in the same way the metrically gifted do theirs – as satire. Lovely!

  2. aughra Says:

    you are brilliant. Cheers.

  3. Joe G Says:

    Keep it up. I’m enjoying the juxtaposition of the real and the imagined. But those who support Palin would never imagine this–and there’s a lot over my head too. But I like it.

  4. Salvo Says:

    I want to hear more of your thoughts! You obviously write from a wellspring of wisdom otherwise unimagined by your contemporary colleagues!

  5. Sarah Palin Says:

    Both diary and blog apparently now public. David Kernell more industrious than initially suspected.

    Love yah!
    The Secret Diary of Sarah Palin
    http://pittbull.us/

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