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Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
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Jul 01, 2010

really liked it

Immanuel Kant is the kind of guy who not only sucks all of the joy out of life; he takes great pleasure in opening the spigot of your happiness-tank and watching it all spill out onto the burn-out lawn and sink into the earth -- seeping toward the planet's molten, pitiless core and, thereupon, toward its irrevocable dissipation.

If he were alive today, I suggest to you that Kant's corporeal manifestation would be that of a paunchy, balding man, eternally sixty years old, who is often seen in his yard, cleaning out his gutters or basement wells or tending his garden joylessly. He's perhaps wearing a modified pith helmet and too-tight khaki shorts which reveal the topography of his bunchy twill underpants as he crouches to slake the thirst of his prized marigolds. Of course, his plastic eyeglass frames are a mottled brown -- no, not tortoise-shell, but a harsh two-tone pattern reminiscent of the formica customarily surrounding a late 1970s basement wet bar. Additionally, the lenses are several sizes too large to conform to even the most deluded strictures of fashion. His socks (or 'stockings,' as he calls them) are a heavy, nauseous tan, ribbed but slouchy. A stubborn elastic band around the stockings' crown tries to hold them steadily around the mid-calf, but the up-again, down-again athleticism of gardening forbids this vain hold-out against gravity. Consequently, the stockings occasionally puddle around his knobby ankles. But not for long. He grunts, squats, hoists -- grunts, squats, hoists. If the ritual's speed were only increased and set to an uptempo adult contemporary favorite, we might suspect it was a dance. Or else an elaborate tic.

Next we should discuss his legs, shouldn't we? Necessity seems to demand it... Kant's legs -- when both his safari-aspirational shorts and his stockings are performing optimally -- are visible from the mid-thigh to the mid-calf and are fantastically white and nearly hairless. It's the kind of white that shames even the newest-fallen snow, and the kind of hairlessness that visits certain men at an advancing age. It's almost as if the sproutings of those once-masculine hairs had wearied over time and just surrendered the puttering gardener to a pleasant sexual neutrality. His legs, otherwise, are surprisingly bulbous with muscle at the height of the calf: a cleft, spastic musculature, as in the shape of cloven hooves. His sandals are wide and deep brown about the straps (three straps in total, none crossed or set at provocative angles), and vaguely semitic in design -- which is to say, tough as citrus rinds, in order to deflect the cruelties of the Negev.

This is what Immanuel Kant would look like today, probably. If he were your neighbor (a half dozen houses down the street, perhaps) and you were driving to your vinyl-sided ranch or bungalow with a sackful of perishable groceries in the trunk of your Volvo S40, and if you tapped the horn friskily and waved at Mr. Kant as he dug in his garden, he would, I assure you, remain defiantly crouched, folded in upon himself, beholden to some faithless prayer. He would seem as if to have not heard your car or your horn and neither to have suspected your hand were raised in salutation. But of course he is nothing else but an intelligent man, and so he hears and of course he knows, or at least suspects. But he simply straightens his sun-bleached helmet, sinks his fingers more deeply into his yellow suede work gloves, and digs toward an object which will bring him no joy or satisfaction, but rather a steady, textureless hum within and throughout his consciousness which passes in some muddled cultures for the noise of enlightenment.
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Comments (showing 1-33 of 33) (33 new)

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message 1: by Greg (new)

Greg Four Stars? Really? Reading Kant was like having sewing needles stuck into my eyes over and over again. Great description of Kant though, although would this 21st century Kant still be insanely OCD?

David When I read this -- maybe a dozen years ago -- my pleasure gland wasn't fully evolved yet, so I may have only mistakenly believed that I somehow enjoyed it. Nevertheless, I must rely on the opinion of an earlier, now-obsolete version of myself because I have no intention of reading it again.

Ellen So based upon empirical evidence (your review) may I rationally deduce you found Kant off-putting? So why the four stars??? (echoing Greg's question).

message 4: by D. (last edited Jun 29, 2010 05:53PM) (new)

D. Pow Fuck. I've only read excerpts of this in undergraduate philosophy classes some twenty years ago. Couldn't understand half of it and the half I did understand made me want to chew ground glass and kick people.

Sometimes it pays to be an ignoramus.

message 5: by David (last edited Jun 29, 2010 05:57PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

David Well, Ellen... the writing (or the translation of the writing) is somewhat tortuous. The obsessive philosophizing is nerdy and grating. But some of the insights are profound and 'important' -- so that's why it gets four stars.

Meanwhile, Donald, if I had to choose between any one of the three Diff'rent Strokes housekeepers and Immanuel Kant, I think we know who'd win out. Who wants a stuffy Prussian philosopher serving you French toast in the morning?

message 6: by Kimley (new)

Kimley Let's all sing together now...

Immanuel Kant was a real piss ant who was very rarely stable.


And that's all I think I need to know about Immanuel Kant.

message 7: by Esteban (new)

Esteban del Mal I had a neighbor like Immanuel when I was 12. I shot out one of the windows to his house with a BB gun.

I couldn't articulate why I did it at the time, but I understand now it was a categorical imperative of sorts.

message 8: by Eddie (new)

Eddie Watkins Many men of my father's generation wore knee-high dark polyester socks every day to the factory. In my dad's case his horny big toenails, in rubbing against the inside of his steel-tipped shoes, would work holes in the socks which my grandmother would darn with yarn as the whole family watched Hee-Haw. Men should never wear knee-high dark polyester socks! Calf and shin hairs are shorn off by them, leaving that Kantian pale polished look, with a few crookedly feeble sprouts, that towered over me as I rubbed Absorbine Jr. between my father's talon-like toes.

message 9: by Eddie (new)

Eddie Watkins Sock suspenders scare me. They must've been necessary before modern elastic made them obsolete. No, my dad just wore skin-tight socks pulled so tight the spaces between the fibers opened and hairs stuck out. Said hairs would then be sheared off as he walked among the machines in his hard hat.

message 10: by Miriam (new)

Miriam I once had a boyfriend start talking about the categorical imperative while we were making out. It was gross.

message 11: by David (new)

David A load of rubbish but very funny. He was a bit of a stick-in-the-mud, but a Copernicus to philosophy, and if you think he's boring you should try reading Hegel or Heidegger. Germans tend to be a bit like that anyway - everyone stands to attention when you leave the room, greetings by surname, funny walks. Accident of birth, probably. But they're very clean and meticulous, and work well in teams as England discovered again on Sunday.

message 12: by David (last edited Jun 30, 2010 08:41AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

David Hey, I gave him four stars! I didn't think he was boring so much as his language was tortured (a frequent side effect of rigorous philosophical writing, of course) and not particularly enjoyable. But then again, I don't think stuff like this is built for pleasure. That's why I still gave it four stars. There are some important ideas here, but often a real pain-in-the-ass getting to them.

I have read Heidegger and attempted Hegel. They both convinced me, to differing degrees, that ignorance was preferable.

message 13: by David (new)

David You don't have to justify yourself to the likes of me.

message 14: by trivialchemy (last edited Jun 30, 2010 10:50AM) (new)

trivialchemy A brilliant, funny review. David v3.2 may be the the height of David evolution.

As a great lover of Cartesian thought, I had no difficulty at all reconciling the physical description with the 4 stars. You know, I actually caught myself reading a Descartes collection of some kind just last Sunday, and I wrote a GR review for the edition in my head; unfortunately it never made it to the interwebz.

message 15: by Bram (last edited Jun 30, 2010 12:48PM) (new)

Bram Sunday, 3:53PM, Isaiah's house:

Isaiah: Wait a minute, this isn't porn...it's Descartes. You slyboots, Isaiah...caught ya!

message 16: by Jason (new)

Jason v3.2,

Is this a review or a screed? Put it on the writing section, and you got my vote.

message 17: by David (last edited Jun 30, 2010 01:04PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

David Binks, it's a free form review, impressionistic in tone and not subject to your fascist reviewing rules. I find it bang-up and spot-on, don't you?

message 18: by Jason (new)

Jason It's funny, well-written, and as they say in the automotive field, balls-on-top-dead-center.

message 19: by trivialchemy (last edited Jun 30, 2010 03:36PM) (new)

trivialchemy I think TDC is a very bad place for one's balls, but what mechanics do on their own time is, frankly, none of my business.

The Crimson Fucker I voted for this review cuz david asked me to vote for all of his reviews!

message 21: by Joshlynn (new) - added it

Joshlynn I'll get to it someday, but until then, I have this review.

message 22: by Rakhi (new) - added it

Rakhi Dalal I couldn't help but smile :) Thanks for writing the review!

message 23: by Richard (new)

Richard Derus *laughing, nodding, liking*

David Thanks, everyone.

It's too hot for Kant today. He's in the backyard, shirtless, soaking his feet in his roasting pan.

message 25: by Michelle (new)

Michelle He lives near my dad. We drive by his house on our way to Dunkin' Donuts, and we always wave.

message 26: by Richard (new)

Richard Derus David wrote: "Thanks, everyone.

It's too hot for Kant today. He's in the backyard, shirtless, soaking his feet in his roasting pan."

HA! There's a picture I'll treasure into dementia!

message 27: by Christian (new) - added it

Christian i thought relevantly.

Narelle Could not describe Kant nor the book better.

Elena Oh come on! I quite like the dear old fellow. But then I haven't been very successful in my attempt to persuade that many people of the aesthetic appeal of CPR. People expressed incredulity toward my review. I guess the work has these initials for a reason.

message 30: by Daniel (new)

Daniel After your first paragraph, were you just like, "ah what the hell, i´ll just describe his appearance in absolute detail, as he would look like in our time".

message 31: by Traveller (new) - added it

Traveller Heh heh David, you should really go and work for the NYT...

message 32: by M. (new)

M. lol

message 33: by Gijs (new)

Gijs Bijsterbosch 4 stars for arguably the most influential work of the past millennium, aight

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