Three days after terrorists slammed airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, David Horowitz, as disoriented as the rest of us by these cataclysmic events, discovered that he had prostate cancer. As America declared war on terror, Horowitz began treatment, emerging months later with a “reprieve” from his disease. He brought back with him this remarkable book of hard-won insights about our country and ourselves–how we get to our ends and what we learn along the way.
An at times heart-catching departure from the polemics and social criticism that have made Horowitz one of our most controversial public intellectuals, The End of Time is a lyrical meditation on subjects ranging from what parents inadvertently teach us in their deaths, to the forbidding realities of the cancer ward, to the way in which figures like Mohammed Atta use death as a strategy in becoming gods of their own mad creation. Hovering protectively over these ruminations is Horowitz’s wife, April, whose stubborn love reached into the heart of his medical darkness and led him back toward the light of this work.
If The End of Time is about how the commitments we make in this life steer us toward our fate, it is also about the redemptive power of language and literature. One of the writers who helped Horowitz make sense of what had happened to him and what was happening around him was the 17th century Catholic philosopher and scientist Blaise Pascal, whose Pensees functions here as a model and guide. The End of Time resembles the Pensees in its striking combination of sense and sensibility, and in the way that its unflinching search for the truth is elevated by one stunning epiphany after another. Citing Pascal’s famous observation that “the heart has its reasons which reason does not know,” Horowitz concludes his journey by saying: “I do not have the faith of Pascal, but I know its feeling…. I will be unafraid when death comes. I will feel my way toward the horizon in front of me, and my heart will take me home.”