Appendix 1: Kierkegaard and the Lower East Side

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By Alex Lozupone - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The Lower East Side (LES) is the revered name of an area of Manhattan located on the southeastern corner of the island. Because rents were rock bottom in the late nineteenth century and half of the twentieth century it was home in waves to most of New York City’s incoming ethnic groups, such as Italians, Jews, Puerto Ricans etc.

The author arrived on the LES as an NYU student early in the 1960s. NYU had no student dormitories for its Manhattan campus at the time. It didn’t really need any because almost all its undergrad cohort consisted of New York kids who started college across the Hudson River but couldn’t hack it away from New York subway your-wate-and-fate scales, Chock Full O’ Nuts date nut bread, roast chestnuts, potato knishes with mustard and dirty water hot dogs. So they returned to their accustomed stomping grounds to wrap up their sheepskins at $39 a course credit hour.

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Appendix 2: David Hume and chastity

David Hume (1711-1776) is one of the most influential Enlightenment writers in the English language. Although distantly related to minor nobility, Hume started life with no known advantages but a prodigious curiosity. His father’s sojourn among mortals ended soon after the boy’s second birthday. His mother Katherine (nee Falconer) – whom David in his autobiography called “a woman of singular merit, who though young and handsome” – raised David, his older brother and his younger sister in “slender” circumstances. Whatever occupational choices this handsome woman made obviously did not include the one choice women of different times chose to pave their ways to tainted gains.

David’s college admission papers and SAT scores gather dust in an as yet undiscovered storage bin. When unearthed they may settle the dispute whether he entered the University of Edinburgh at age 10 or 12. His classmates didn’t usually enter those hallowed halls until the riper age of 14.

College did not agree with the wee lad. Following his father’s footsteps into business law would have been the logical key to a bespoke life. But that darn restless curiosity steered him in a dodgier direction. He used his college years plus several more to drill himself in classical literature. He essentially home schooled himself, asserting that “there is nothing to be learnt from a Professor, which is not to be met with in Books.”

Another important figure in English letters and arts was William Blake (1757-1827). Hume was comfortable among Enlightenment thinkers, while Blake was not. Yet both agreed on the issue of learning. Blake wrote: Thank God I never was sent to School, To be Flogg’d into following the Stile of a Fool.”

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