Thursday, March 07, 2013

Worth repeating

The quotation below appears in my email signature. Really nails it.
"I believe what really happens in history is this: the old man is always wrong; and the young people are always wrong about what is wrong with him. The practical form it takes is this: that, while the old man may stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid."  -- G. K. Chesterton
Doesn't say much for progress.

A while back, as noted here, some arts journalist with no historical awareness went ape over a recent play that was, in fact, hyperdrama. It was much less ambitious than any of my hyperdramas in the 1980s or any going on in Europe at the same time. The journalist thought this was some hot "new" kind of theater.

Each generation, it seems, has to reinvent the wheel. A frequent exception is in the sciences, where knowledge actually accumulates much of the time. But in less rigorous fields, based on subjective values, the wheel gets reinvented again and again.

And I still shake my head that Dos Passos' USA trilogy is not known by my students. I've been too optimistic ha ha.

When I was a young writer, I still recall a strange quality in the eyes of much older writers I met. I now know what it was. Been there, done that.

Eliot's essay "Tradition and the Individual Talent" puts all this in perspective. But probably no one reads that any more either!

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