What’s the commonest reason for admission to hospital of people 65 and over? Mull that question, as it provides context. Think of people you know. At least one probably has this condition. It’s not diabetes. It’s not heart attacks. And it is not infectious. But it kills and lots of people have it.
Part II of my discussion of hepatitis C is coming; some new recent data needs weaving into it.
Let me begin by digressing.
Do you recognize this man?
That’s the cover of Time from 17 March 1952, long before I was born. Mortimer Adler, a philosopher, was increasingly becoming known as America’s most eminent public intellectual.
In 1995, someone working with Adler contacted me. I had written a chapter for a book, to be published the following year, for which Adler was editor. Adler was 92 at the time. Mr. Adler would like to meet you, I was told. Could I please fly soon to California and visit him at his condominium home in San Mateo?
The chapter I had written was one into which I had put Herculean effort. I regarded it as a second doctoral dissertation. I had slaved over it by night for over a year while being a molecular biologist and physician by day. I had traveled to far-flung places to gather data, do interviews, collect narratives and pictures.
Many of Adler’s finest books, such as How to Read a Book and Ten Philosophical Mistakes, were ones I re-read occasionally. I loved that Aristotle, a hero for me, suffused so much of Adler’s thought. I didn’t feel worthy to be writing for Adler—no one ever did—and while I did not know the precise reason he wanted to meet me, I did not presume he wanted me to fly cross-country for a mere cup of fine oolong and blandishment. I wondered if he disagreed with what I’d written. I wondered if he planned an intellectual slugfest with me.
I showed up at Adler’s building about 15 minutes early. Again, I knew not what to expect, but I was ready for Shoot-Out at The Adler Corral at 2 pm. A doorman admitted me. His second wife, in her fifties, met me at their tony apartment door. She was friendly but wary. She actually checked my ID. The apex of Adler’s fame had passed, but he would not meet with just anyone. She led me among exquisite ...