John Updike, "The Astronomer"

Oh no, the astronomer is coming to town? But I was just gettin’ religious.

(from Pigeon Feathers and Other Stories)

I feared his visit. I was twenty-four, and the religious revival within myself was at its height. Earlier that summer, I had discovered Kierkegaard, and each week I brought back to the apartment one more of the Princeton University Press’s elegant and expensive editions of his works. They were beautiful books, sometimes very thick, sometimes very thin, always typographically exhilarating, with their welter of title pages, subheads, epigraphs, emphatic italics, italicized catchwords taken from German philosophy and too subtle for translation, translator’s prefaces and footnotes, and Kierkegaard’s own endless footnotes, blanketing pages at a time as, crippled, agonized by distinctions, he scribbled on and on, heaping irony on irony, curse on curse, gnashing, sneering, praising Jehovah in the privacy of his empty home in Copenhagen.

I dunno, I guess this is about a religious Kierkegaard-studier not being quite so different from the morally ambiguous man of science. Both are truth-seekers, of sorts, with different ideas about what’s sacred. But beyond that squid-versus-whale struggle, I don’t think there’s much of a satisfying story here. But, you know, it’s a thought-provoking read. You can check it out here.
I couldn’t find the cover of my copy — on loan to me by M.J. Fine — so I took my own picture.

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