Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cultivating Culture

I've been reading Anthony Esolen's translation of Dante's Inferno. He's a magnificent writer (Esolen, as well Dante). Much of his writing - and his talks - focuses on culture. Especially it's loss. Here he is recently on the problem with 'pluralism':
No culture is a straitjacket;  but all cultures, like all living things, must be coherent.  We can have a culture like that of the pagan Irish, whose great epic was the tale of a cattle raid;  we can have the British culture of shopkeepers that Napoleon sneered at;  but we cannot have both at once.  We can have a culture that allows men to challenge one another to a duel when they believe their honor has been besmirched;  we can have a culture in which the weakest among us may speak slander without fear of physical reprisal;  but we cannot have both at once.  The call for "pluralism" is a dodge, a way to excuse oneself from having to justify the single counter-cultural thing one wishes to promote.  Many people are "pluralistic" about marriage these days.  Not nearly so many are "pluralistic" about property, or revenge, or war — or education, or even unbridled speech.
Plenty more here. His talk on 'culture, what culture?' is magnificent, by the way: linking Jacobean comedy to our strange, 21st century obsessions.


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