What does Herzog in Saul Bellow's Herzog mean by the following phrases: "Reality Instructors," "Crisis Ethics," "Potato Love," and "Slacker's Life"?

1 Answer

thanatassa's profile pic

thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

"Reality Instructors:" These are people who normally as “street wise” and teach the intellectuals in Bellow’s novels emotional or spiritual truths not found in academic philosophy or literary criticism. They are often people who lack formal education but have a great depth of emotional experience.

"Crisis Ethics:" The quasi-existentialist notion that ethics are only forged in a crisis. Herzog, and by extension Bellow, disapprove of this notion of ethics which is contrasted with doing good in more ordinary, every day circumstances.

"Potato Love:" general and non-specific, almost shapeless affection as opposed to a specific and intense romantic passion

"Slacker's Life": A life that does not involve fulfilling one’s full artistic or intellectual potential