Skip to comments.FROM ANCIENT WHITE MALES-(revitalizing classical studies critical to combatting liberal revisionism)
Posted on 05/19/2005 10:56:07 AM PDT by CHARLITE
Like Rodney Dangerfield, the humanities in Washington "don't get no respect." Not as much as they should, anyway. We're a company town and the company makes politics. But like a blind squirrel who finds an acorn once in a while, politicians and the journalists gather occasionally with others who crave more profundity than the noise in political rhetoric to listen to the annual >Jefferson Lecture.
"The training of the intellect was meant to produce an intrinsic pleasure and satisfaction but it also had practical goals of importance to the individual and the entire community, to make the humanistically trained individuals eloquent and wise, to know what is good and to practice virtue, both in private and public life," he says. This ought to rattle the bones of everyone on Capitol Hill.
"In Defense of History" was not for faint-hearted liberals or politically correct journalists. It was filled with big ideas that sprang from the minds of the dead white males so enthusiastically trashed on the modern campus. Anyone who wants to be up to speed on the importance of the classical Greek historians, tragedians and philosophers can read it at http://www.NEH.gov.The professor, who has been described as "a combination of John Wayne and Winston Churchill," lives up to both, shooting from the hip and hitting his targets with rare eloquence, teaching and provoking. As a cultural conservative, he dares to attack the post-modern mindlessness that can pass for academic thought in the teaching of literature, philosophy and history. This pervades the political culture in Washington as well as the campus lecture hall. He's eager for us to understand that what we call "liberal studies" should be essential reading for every citizen of democracy, with the challenge to aim for the highest public and private aspirations.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtontimes.com ...
Terry Eagleton surmised that the decline of the Classics in English speaking countries started with the advent of WW1. Philology was largely associated with Germany so the patriotically inclined English took the focus off of them in favor of their own literature.
Very, very TRUE!
This is why I will be buying the complete Great Books of the Western World.
Dead white male bump
I've seen that, thanks. There are actually a bunch of sites about this set, along with at least 3 separate newsgroups running the "Great Conversation" and the concurrent 10-year reading assignments. I can't wait to get my set, so I can start reading. Fortunately, I read faster than most people, so I hope to be able to plow through the series in a couple of years.
Philosopher's Song (Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl)
Immanuel Kant was a real pissant who was very rarely stable,
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar who could think you under the table,
David Hume could out-consume Schopenhauer and Hegel,
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine who was just as schloshed as Schlegel.
There's nothing Nietzsche couldn't teach ya 'bout the turning of the wrist,
Socrates himself was permanently pissed...
John Stuart Mill, of his own free will, with half a pint of shandy was
Plato, they say, could stick it away, half a crate of whiskey every day,
Aristotle, Aristotle was a beggar for the bottle,
Hobbes was fond of his dram,
And Rene Descartes was a drunken fart, "I drink therefore I am."
Yes, Socrates himself is particularly missed;
A lovely little thinker but a bugger when he's pissed.
The reason why the dregs of society are being lauded today for such achievements as crucixes in urine, jungle-beat incantations about raping women and killing police officers, unryhmed, nonsensical poetry, and idiotic movies full of sex is precisely because THE GREAT WHITE MALE is now evil. What else have you got? The not great white or non-white anything else.
But give me Bach, Tennyson, Vivaldi, Milton, Caravaggio, Beethoven, Donne, Rembrandt, Herbert, Josquin, DaVinci, Dickens, and the rest of the noble host of the great white men of Western Civilization anyday over the scum we call achievement today.
Much of the analytic side of Philology has been supplanted by Linguistics, a field that purports to exclude the larger human context of lanuguage in order to approach it as a "scinece."
Not having gone to public schools and having the benefit of a rigorous formal education with a strong dose of the "Cannon" of the Western world - and not just the Classics - I marvel at how truly ignorant and ill educated our "academics and "intellectuals" actually are.
When I was a boy, the fellows working at the water treatment plant had a better understanding of their civilization, and were in some way "better educated" than these imposters
And it is not merely about literacy: These folks are deficient in basic and general knowledge of Mathematics, Music or the Visual Arts.
Yes but Milton, like Shakespeare (whom I grossly ommitted from my preliminary list) wrote in iambic pentameter, or blank verse. It was structured and ordered.
I am not a fan of T.S . Eliot, eeeeee cumings or the rest of the decontructionists... form and structure help create beauty, chaos is ugliness..
"Dead white male" bump.
How old are you? When was the last time you were on a campus? Do you have to deal with any of these sort in daily life?
I went to school in the '90s. And I count a few of them amongst my freinds. Remember this is good old fashioned 'English'...not Woman's Studies or Queer theory Studies. Perhaps people involved with those other departments (who have connections to Lit Departments of course) would say differently. I went to a small state school. Perhaps the radicals are at the Ivy League schools? Though people I studied with studied with people like Stanley Fish who I don't regard as a radical.
Forgive the misnomer.
I DO however prefer poetry that is rhymed, with metric feet.
Unrhymed, nonsensical poetry (or whatever I said before) smacks of laziness or lack of skill to me. I was thinking more of the Maya Angelou category actually... I mean, rap rhymes but I would not call it great poetry...
But to each his own.
Eliot used rhyme to knock the reader on the head to make a point. But something like 'The Wasteland' works just fine in its own unrhymed baggy way. Alexander Pope it isn't.
I when to school in the 60's and the 70's,. I was an academic for about a decade in the Ivys (plus Ivy level tech schools - Cal tech, MIT.) I worked in quite a few academic and industrial "think tanks."
My take on it is much different than yours.
Also, I certainly regard Fish as a radical. I find that an odd comment for that is precisely what he made his "reputation" on. I find him loathsome: he has done much damage.
Still, if there are folks like you around there is hope. I often wonder how we will turn this around: The ranks of the knowledgeable are thinning. It is are bring in crop when the cane is in the field.
Fish is a brilliant Milton scholar. And he drives the PC crowd crazy with his pragmatic takes on the ways literary and political discourses intertwine. He's a demystifier extraordinaire. A lot of people wrongly attribute the 'text doesn't always mean what the author intended' school to him. It's an old theory and not as crazy as it sounds. I'm quite curious what damage you think he's done?
you mean like this one?
Mr. Eliots Sunday Morning Service
Look, look, master, here comes two religious caterpillars.
The Jew of Malta.
The sapient sutlers of the Lord
Drift across the window-panes.
In the beginning was the Word.
In the beginning was the Word. 5
Superfetation of ,
And at the mensual turn of time
Produced enervate Origen.
A painter of the Umbrian school
Designed upon a gesso ground 10
The nimbus of the Baptized God.
The wilderness is cracked and browned
But through the water pale and thin
Still shine the unoffending feet
And there above the painter set 15
The Father and the Paraclete.
. . . . .
The sable presbyters approach
The avenue of penitence;
The young are red and pustular
Clutching piaculative pence. 20
Under the penitential gates
Sustained by staring Seraphim
Where the souls of the devout
Burn invisible and dim.
Along the garden-wall the bees 25
With hairy bellies pass between
The staminate and pistilate,
Blest office of the epicene.
Sweeney shifts from ham to ham
Stirring the water in his bath. 30
The masters of the subtle schools
Are controversial, polymath.
I don't see these as classics to be read for my interest. I see them, as many do, as the foundation for what used to be generally termed as the classic liberal (small "l") education. It isn't just novels and Greek philosophy. There are the foundations of mathematics from Euclid and Archimedes, Astronomy, Optical theory (Newton), Politics (Machiavelli, Locke, Mill), Electrical theory (Faraday), Darwin (natural theory), Freud (psychology), Einstein (relativity), Bohr (atomic theory), Keynes (economics), etc etc. To be sure, there are many examples of fictional literature, but that isn't the purpose of this set. There are also collections or lists for literature only on that interleaves page, and you may be confusing one of them for this set.
It's too bad that the Eastern list isn't compiled into a set yet. Some of them are going to be hard to find.
Also, I realize that some of the works in the GBWW have been discredited (Freud, Keynes, and especially Marx), but their works nevertheless have impacted history. I don't think you are being arrogant, you merely take a different approach to learning than I do. I believe every one of these works has something to offer, whether I end up enjoying it or not. I don't go back and re-read my college math text, but that doesn't mean I didn't learn anything from it.
I figure I should be able to plow through the whole set in 2-3 years. I read very fast. Mortimer Adler compiled the GBWW, so yes, I assume it is very similar to his list of great books.
I would consider Machiavelli to be essential, if only because even if one isn't inclined to adopt his suggestions, others do. Much of his writing is simply the Law of the Jungle writ large. Humans got where they are today largely through aggressive tendencies, either through aggressively migrating across the planet, or aggressively pushing the tribe on the other side of the hill out of their territory, or some such. Whether the genteel warfare of court, the more physical warfare of the field, or the impersonal battle with nature, we have achieved our greatest societal advances through combat. We live in the world we were born into, not the world we wish we were born into.
Yes, I plan to read all the "hard science" texts. I will add into that some of Hawkings' stuff. I will be adding Rand to the list, even through she isn't in the GBWW, likewise Kipling. On the interleaves page, there is also a list of Eastern canon works, from the middle east, India, China, and Japan. The books, their recommended translations, and key points, are laid out in the Columbia University "Guide to Oriental Classics". I'll start adding these works in a year or so, and have plenty to read. The list for them is:
I. Classics of the Islamic Tradition
The Seven Odes (Al-Mu 'Allaqat)
The Koran (Al-Qur'an)
The Ring of the Dove (Tawq al-Hamama) by Ibn Hazm
The Assemblies of Al-Hariri (Maqamat al-Hariri)
The Thousand and One Nights (Alf Layla wa-Layla)
Deliverance from Error (Al-Munqidh min al-Dalal) by Al-Ghazali
On the Harmony of Religion and Philosophy (Kitab fasl al-maqal) by Averroes (Ibn Rushd)
The Conference of the Birds by Farid Al-Din 'Attar
The Mystical Poetry of Jalal al-Din Rumi
The Prolegomena (Al-Muqaddima) of Ibn Khaldun
II. Classics of the Indian Tradition
Ramayana of Valmiki
Yoga Sutras of Patañjali
The Vedanta Sutra with the Commentary of Shankaracharya
Theravada Buddhism: The Tipitaka
Theravada Buddhism: The Dhammapada
Theravada Buddhism: The Milindapanha
Theravada Buddhism: The Mahasatipatthana Sutta
Mahayana Buddhism: Prajnaparamita
Mahayana Buddhism: The Srimaladevisimhanada Sutra
Mahayana Buddhism: The Lankavatara Sutra
Mahayana Buddhism: The Sukhavativyuha Sutras
Mahayana Buddhism: The Bodhicaryavatara of Shantideva
Supplementary Readings on Indian Buddhism
Sakuntala of Kalidasa
The Little Clay Cart of Shudraka
Pancatantra, According to Purnabhadra
Sanskrit Lyric Poetry
Gitagovinda of Jayadeva
Indian Devotional Poetry
Poems and Plays of Rabindranath Tagore
Autobiography of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
III. Classics of the Chinese Tradition
The Analects (Lun Yu) or Confucius
The Great Learning (Ta Hsueh)
The Mean (Chung Yung)
Mencius (Meng Tzu)
Lao Tzu, Tao te Ching
Han Fei Tzu
Works of Chu Hsi
Works of Wang Yang-ming
Texts of Chinese Buddhism
The Lotus Sutra (Saddharma Pundarika Sutra, or Miao Fa Lien Hua Ching)
The Vimalakirti-nirdesa Sutra (Wei-mo-chieh so-shuo ching)
The Awakening of Faith in Mahayana (Ta-ch'eng ch'i-hsin lun)
Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch
Supplementary Readings on Chinese Buddhism
The Water Margin, or All Men Are Brothers (Shui Hu Chuan)
Journey to the West, or Monkey (Hsi Yu Chi) by Wu Ch'eng-en
The Golden Lotus (Chin P'ing Mei)
Dream of the Red Chamber (Hung Lou Meng) by Ts'ao Hsüeh-ch'in
IV. Classics of the Japanese Tradition
Texts of Japanese Buddhism
Writings of Kukai
Writings of the Zen Master Hakuin
Supplementary Readings in Japanese Buddhism
The Pillow-Book of Sei Shonagon
The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu
Poetry, Fiction, and Diaries of the Ninth to Eleventh Centuries
Literature in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries
Tsurezure-gusa by Yoshida Kenko
The No Plays
The Novels of Ihara Saikaku
The Poetry and Prose of Matsuo Basho
The Plays of Chikamatsu Manzaemon
Chushingura by Takeda Izumo, Miyoshi Shoraku, and Namiki Senryu
Literature of the Meiji Period
Some of those titles look suspiciously vague. I am not sure if things like "Literature of the Meiji period" are sublists, or actual collected works. Nevertheless, it will be fun to get through them all.
Yes, I have been through college. I haven't read that many of these guys yet though, modern college education being what it is. On top of that, my major was music, so I would have had little cause to read Bohr or Euclid no matter what kind of institution I went to. I did however, get exposed to composers like Berg, Messian, Glass, and many others that few people listen (or can stand to listen) to, as well as the more well-known ones.
I am aiming to do my part by attempting to homeschool my daughter in the classical model of the trivium. There is a network of private schools doing this as well. My best introduction to this educational viewpoint was "The Well Trained Mind" by Jesse Wise.
There has been a growing trend towards the classics in education outside the public schools.
The thing to remember about Jane Austen is that she was a satirist. Emerson took her completely straight (as did the Charlotte Bronte and Mark Twain). Austen treated marriage not as a simple sentimental climax but as a complex moral and social negotiation that reveals human nature. She's been called a 'Prose Shakespeare'. (His comedies also lead up to and end with a marriage.) 'Pride and Prejudice' is one of the treasures of English fiction.
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