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David Brooks Explains Theory Of Social Animals To Centre College

David Brooks of the New York Times delivered a lecture at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky last night. It was definitely the highlight of this trip to S.’s alma mater. Just from his photos, I have always imagined Brooks as an engineering major gone wrong who somehow wound up as a journalist. It’s mostly because his glasses, his conservatively styled hair and his self satisfied yet vaguely concerned look that he has every time I see him on TV reminds me of the legions of middle aged engineers who overrun the Technology Park area just of north of Atlanta where I live.

During most of the address, Brooks appeared to borrow little nuggets from his latest book, The Social Animal, like this one:

There is a great, though apocryphal, tale about an experiment in which middle- aged men were hooked up to a brain- scanning device and asked to watch a horror movie. Then they were hooked up and asked to describe their feelings for their wives. The brain scans were the same— sheer terror during both activities.

Excerpt from The Social Animal

I could see why Brooks would include this anecdote. He looked the way I always imagined writers looked when I was growing up – slightly disheveled and a little gun shy until he started delivering the speech he had rehearsed. The most interesting part of his monologue, at least for me, was his description of the politicians he has been covering for years as hyper social people who innately understand the intricacies of the human connection.

After listening to the vitriolic fear mongering of Rush Limbaugh on the way up I-75 to Danville yesterday afternoon, it was refreshing to hear Brooks speak words of praise for President Obama’s political skills. Brooks came across as such a reasonable fellow during his presentation, in fact, that I had to wonder – how he could consider himself to be a modern day Republican?    


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