"Love as a moral force that deepens a person, organizing human minds around other souls and lifting them so they are capable of great acts of service and devotion." So writes David Brooks in the midst of his chapter on George Eliot during an aside. He shares the story of one night in Leningrad in 1945 when the poet Anna Akhmatova and the philosopher Isaiah Berlin met and spent all night in conversation. A paradigm example of the passion of intellectual love.
About this event Brooks writes:
The night Berlin and Akhmatova spent together stands as the beau ideal of a certain sort of communication. It's communication between people who think that the knowledge most worth attending to is found not in data but in the great works of culture, in humanity's inherited storehouse of moral, emotional, and existential wisdom. It's a communication in which intellectual compatibility turns into emotional fusion. Berlin and Akhmatova could experience that sort of life-altering conversation because they had done the reading. They believed you have to grapple with the big ideas and the big books that teach you how to experience life in all its richness and how to make subtle moral and emotional judgments. They were spiritually ambitious.