I am thrilled to learn – it came entirely as a surprise to me – that Alan Jacobs has joined the roster of TAC bloggers. Jacobs is one of my favorite living essayists, and I attribute that fact to a particular aspect of his character (apart from the clarity of his writing style, which I wish I could approach).
That is the unaffectedness of his enthusiasms. Jacobs’s taste ranges widely – as he himself attests – but there are a lot of people of broad taste who are simply not very discriminating, and many others who achieve that breadth by a process of box-checking and base-covering that is, I think, opposed to the process of developing personal taste that it intends to further. With Jacobs, I never get the sense that he has decided what he loves and what he hates on the basis of some kind of method, but rather by simply listening to himself as he reads, watches or otherwise experiences a work. I aspire to the same myself, but I have a great deal of road to travel to get where Jacobs is already on this metric.
Two of my principle desires for TAC have been for an expansion of the “back of the book” – culture, books, the arts – and for the development of a more fluid conversation between contributors, one that plays out in real-time. Alan Jacobs should, and I believe will, represent a significant leap forward on both fronts.