Thursday, July 20, 2006

The young, the restless, and the talented

Okay, I've read enough of David Schraub's blog, The Debate Link, to realize that we are dealing with an emerging genius in legal scholarship and commentary. And I'm not just saying this because the Carleton College sophomore just posted an very thoughtful analysis of my own work on civil rights law (although, truth be told, that post did catch my eye). My admiration arises from my observation that this undergraduate has done a better job than many people with tenure of reading, understanding, and engaging a broad range of legal literature, without regard to whether it merely confirms or intensely challenges his own views. Anyone who can go toe-to-toe with William Van Alstyne, one of the greatest constitutional scholars of all time, a year before he's even ready to take the LSAT, is destined to become a splendid scholar in his own right. The legal academy can only hope that this guy doesn't find something else that excites him more, like making money or writing the great American novel.

If I am right in evaluating this young man's talent, I hope he will someday remember the law professor who spotted him in his relative youth. In the meanwhile, no matter whether David ultimately pursues his obvious and prodigious natural talent for legal scholarship, he already embodies the energetic spirit of Fainy McCready, the first of many heroes in John Dos Passos' epochal novel, U.S.A.:
The young man walks by himself, fast by not fast enough, far but not far enough (faces slide out of sight, talk trails into tattered scraps, footsteps tap fainter in alleys); he must catch the last subway, the streetcar, the bus, run up the gangplanks of all the steamboats, register at all the hotels, work in the cities, answer the wantads, learn the trades, take up the jobs, live in all the boardinghouses, sleep in all the beds. One bed is not enough, one job is not enough, one life is not enough.
I'd invite him to drive from Northfield to Minneapolis for a congratulatory drink, but seriously, the man is not yet old enough to exercise his 21st amendment rights.


Blogger David Schraub said...

Although I don't actually drink, if you know anything about Carleton College you know that 21 is just a number here a Northfield--and not a very important one at that!

Still, I'm flattered by the post, and when I'm on the job market looking for my first job (after the great American novel flops--I have a little less confidence in my prose), I hope that you remember me.

7/21/2006 2:07 AM  

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