A Life Beyond Reason: A Father’s Memoir
A well-regarded scholar of the Enlightenment, Chris Gabbard was once an ardent believer in Socrates’ philosophy that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Before marriage and fatherhood, he recalls being a young man in San Francisco content to categorize those people who didn’t live their lives in the light of reason as “unspeakably stupid.” But when he and his wife Ilene have their first child, Gabbard’s belief system is shaken when he contemplated the prospects of his newborn son August, who suffered a catastrophic brain injury at birth likely due to medical error. “My son did not break my belief in facts and reason so much as end my blind faith in them,” he shares. “It was not that they didn’t matter anymore but that they were not all that mattered. Love was something else. It was a separate reality.”
In A Life Beyond Reason: A Father’s Memoir, Gabbard takes readers through the harrowing 42 hours of his wife’s labor that led to his son’s severe cognitive and physcial disabilities; recounts his experience raising, caring for, and loving August; and details his gradual shift from a disciple of reason to a pilgrim on a spiritual journey.
About the Author: Chris Gabbard is an associate professor of English at the University of North Florida. He serves on the editorial board of The Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, and his writing about disability, literature, and the Enlightenment has appeared in numerous academic publications and journals. He lives with his family in Jacksonville, FL.