It's Time to Build—Aboveground, Not Underground
My Keynote at the 2023 American Economic Forum
I’m back. Thank you for bearing with me while I was not able to keep up a regular publication schedule over the past month. On October 26, our first child, a healthy daughter, was born: Rome Frances Cecilia Burgis. Claire and I feel like new people.
And from Nov. 2-4, I hosted 350+ people in Washington, DC (including about 200 readers of this newsletter, most of whom I was meeting for the first time) for the first NOVITĀTE gathering on the campus of the Catholic University of America. We explored and celebrated the life and work of René Girard on the 100th anniversary of his birth. I’ll have more to say on that experience shortly (but others, like speaker and attendee, have already begun writing about it…)
The lead-up to both of these events left me little time to write. Even now, I am burning it at both ends—but I have many things to share in the coming days and weeks. I think I’m experiencing a type of “horseshoe” phenomenon: the sleep-deprivation of having a 2-week old newborn is paired with renewed inspiration and vitality from the gift of life and the energy from last week’s gathering. Exhaustion and energy meet!
Today I’d like to share the written text of a speech that I gave last week since it touches on many of the themes that I’ve been writing about here for the past few years. I spent time writing it out since I knew I would have to deliver it only a few days after Rome was born, and my usual free-wheeling style could get me into trouble at the podium. Now I’m very happy to share it here.
What follows is the address I delivered to attendees of the 2023 American Economic Forum on November 1st, 2023. It has been lightly edited for legibility.
As Above, So Below: The Tension Between (In)visible Desires
Dostoevsky’s novella Notes from the Underground begins: “I am a sick man. I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my liver is diseased.”
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