Wednesday, April 16, 2014

He is not an intellectual...

...and neither am I. On About last Night, Terry Teachout, possibly the most wide- ranging American critic and cultural writer, explains:

"I incline as a rule to the mode of thought and feeling implied by T.S. Eliot's remark that Henry James had "a mind so fine that no idea could violate it." All history, especially the history of the twentieth century, argues against placing ideas in the saddle and allowing them to ride mankind. Too often they end up riding individual men and women into mass graves. As Irving Babbitt pointed out:

'Robespierre and Saint-Just were ready to eliminate violently whole social strata that seemed to them to be made up of parasites and conspirators, in order that they might adjust this actual France to the Sparta of their dreams; so that the Terror was far more than is commonly realized a bucolic episode. It lends color to the assertion that has been made that the last stage of sentimentalism is homicidal mania.'

That's one of many reasons why I choose not to call myself an intellectual."

Also see, perhaps, Michael Oakeshott.

2 comments:

Chas Clifton said...

I am reading this book, The Intellectuals and the Masses right now. You probably would enjoy it.

Randy Davis said...

Teachout is a terrific critic, even when you don t agree with him. Budd Boetticher westerns, the great dramatist Terrance Rattigan, the stupidity of art museums...and always written with a certain flair