A. Jay Adler was born in New York City of Ukrainian Jewish parents. He began his higher education at The City College of New York. After an interim as a troubled soul and executive in the air courier business (not simultaneously), he completed his undergraduate studies at Hunter College and did his graduate work at Columbia University. He is currently Professor of English at Los Angeles Southwest College. An essayist, critic and poet, he also writes fiction, drama and screenplays. Jay blogs at the sad red earth.
Why do you blog? > I have a lot to say, and Julia has to sleep some time. The family lore, which I am regrettably unable to verify personally, is that I was incubated for two days after my birth because I opened my mouth even before evacuating the womb.
What has been your best blogging experience? > The many connections I have made with people I would otherwise not have encountered.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Don't do it unless you enjoy it, investigate online how it all works, be interested and interesting – and as in all matters, persevere.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Socrates, Gautama Buddha, Albert Camus, Jurgen Habermas.
What are you reading at the moment? > On my nightstand: The Collected Poems of Joseph Brodsky; Postwar, by Tony Judt; The Passion of the Western Mind, by Richard Tarnas; and This Land Was Theirs: A Study of North American Indians, by Wendell H. Oswalt.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Walt Whitman, George Orwell, Albert Camus, Paul Newman, Stephen Sondheim.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Tristram Shandy? Emma? Vanity Fair? The Magic Mountain? The Sound and the Fury? One Hundred Years of Solitude.
What is your favourite poem? > It's a tie. Short: Wallace Stevens's 'Of Mere Being'; long: T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets.
What is your favourite movie? > Bernardo Bertolucci's The Conformist.
What is your favourite song? > 'Sunday', the finale of Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George – here.
Who is your favourite composer? > Bach, Beethoven, Jean Sibelius, Stephen Sondheim.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > In 1976, I voted for the Socialist Labour Party candidate for President of the United States. I would not do that again, and not simply because I no longer believe in voting for candidates who have no chance of winning.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > The idea that truth is perceptibly, partly contingent.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > The inference from the above that truth is entirely contingent: that incomplete knowledge is no knowledge.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Albert Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus. For why, see here.
Who are your political heroes? > Spartacus (a slave rebellion against the Roman empire?), George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Lech Walesa, Mikhail Gorbachev, Vaclev Havel, Nelson Mandela.
What would you do with the UN? > I would begin a movement for a system of tiered membership, with voting rights and weights, as well as varied council and sub-organization memberships, tied to systematically measured conformance with standards derived from the UN declarations, covenants, and conventions. Under such a system, for instance, many of the members of the UN Human Rights Council would be currently ineligible to serve on it.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > The excesses of the international Left that are in part responsive to the American Right; the excesses of the American Right that are in part responsive to the international Left.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > It may depend on the above.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > We are on this earth for reasons known only to us.
Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > No.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Kindness.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Shopping at malls. It is not merely a waste of time; it is a black hole in the developmental history of human consciousness.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > I would not drop out of college twice and get kicked out once.
What would you call your autobiography? > Yes, but.
What is your most treasured possession? > My father's ring.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Jazz musician, working stage actor, spy, Secretary of State, art house film programmer, jazz club and restaurant owner, Supreme Court justice.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I would move back to New York City, buy an apartment or home on every continent (except for Antarctica) and travel much of the year.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > William Shakespeare (I would be making a presumption, but, ah, if I were right!), Samuel Johnson, and Abraham Lincoln.
What animal would you most like to be? > A well-loved dog.
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature. A list of all the profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]