Brooks ultimately betrays his Judeo-Christian attachments. Like many of us men, he struggles to surrender completely his egoistic self to the unseen authority of something greater, even when the defiance causes internal division and privation of meaning. Building the first mountain, it’s presumed, is part of a meta-narrative that will one day reveal why there is Something Rather Than Nothing. As Ivan explains in The Brothers Karamazov:
I want to be there when everyone suddenly understands what it has all been for. All the religions of the world are built on this longing, and I am a believer.
Western society, then, doesn’t need another self-help manual. Nor a new Republic-cum-Macbeth rendering of veiled reality. People want to know if human suffering serves a higher purpose. Where is the Nietzschean why to ameliorate the terrifying how of genuine faith?
Here is my review of David Brooks’ latest book, The Second Mountain. It’s well worth a read, despite its self-help flavour.