Leon Wieseltier Profile

Lloyd Grove wrote for the March 1995 edition of Vanity Fair:

New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier is the egghead boy toy of such glamorous powers as Barbara Streisand, Shirley MacLaine, and Tipper Gore. But has he abandoned the life of the mind to be the life of the party?

…he once described his job as “policing the culture.”

…Wieseltier squired Tipper Gore in the 1980s to Washington’s 9:30 club, where they danced the night away to heavy-metal bands while Al was apparently up in the Senate, protecting the national interest…

Wieseltier came to this perch of high culture highly recommended by his doting intellectual mentors: critic Lionel Trilling at Columbia, philosopher Sir Isaiah Berlin at Oxford…, and historian Yosef Yerushalmi at Harvard… He was, they all agreed, a brilliant young man of breathtaking promise who would one day bring forth works of enduring importance.

His academic articles feature such sentences as, “The undifferentiated, followed by the simultaneity of the undifferentiated with the differentiated, followed by the withdrawal of the undifferentiated and the triumph of the differentiated: this has been the pattern of metaphysical history in the Jewish view…”

According to witnesses, Wieseltier was soon bringing to the office another habit [aside from alcohol] that he also enjoyed outside the workplace: frequent cocaine use. A person familiar with Wieseltier’s indulgence estimates that at one point in 1993 he was snorting — from a petite silver spoon, dangling from a chain attached to a vial, an entire gram a day. To support this expensive pastime — all but impossible on his salary, which is in the high five figures — he regularly loaded dozens of books he received as literary editor into the trunk of his Honda Accord and hauled them to Washington bookstores, selling them to finance purchases of “truth serum.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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