As I predicted, there is pomposity a-plenty in The Good Book. But it’s hard to imagine anything much more pompous than a book entitled Wisdom.
To be fair, there is much in the 22 chapters of the book that I feel is wise, but its wisdom is diminished rather than enhanced by collecting it thusly. Read together, the assorted pieces of wisdom are made to sound like mere platitudes by sheer repetition – a phenomenon not at all helped by the fact that much of the book is composed of mere platitudes.
Moreover, the book contradicts itself in several places. It might be argued that wisdom can often seem paradoxical at best, and there’s truth in that, but it doesn’t make a pair of conflicting statements align. It’s possible, I suppose, that Grayling was seeking a koan-like effect in doing so, but the sheer literalism and didacticism of the text makes me doubt this.
That said, his device of ending each chapter with the question “How long will you delay to be wise?” is effective, and the moreso for its repetition. It’s just that it inspires me to ask Grayling how long he will delay to be humble.