Friday, July 1, 2011

ET Almanac: (and afterword)

Over our five centuries, the changes in social structure, economic life, and cultural expectations have worked fairly steadily toward emancipation and made individualism a common form of self-consciousness. The artist is the conspicuous and congenial example. But free play for the self is still a goal to be achieved and not a gift. Under any system, whoever wants self-fulfillment must exert willpower over a long stretch of time, besides possessing talent and knowing how to manage it. And as is plain from daily experience, many who make this effort fail nonetheless and complain of "subjection." Meanwhile, the great majority feel no wish for public fame or self-expression, which does not mean that they are denied respect or some scope for their modest powers. The society in which everybody finds his or her proper level and due recognition has yet to be designed and made to work.

Jacques Barzun, "From Dawn to Decadence".


I am and have always been a quote whore. But the purpose of the 'almanac' is a little different than how other bloggers generally keep it. Terry Teachout keeps an 'almanac' all the time on his (the pre)eminent culture blog. But in his case, it is used more as an example to show erudition which he already has. In mine, it's a way of displaying erudition I'm struggling, however awkwardly, to accumulate. I used to pride myself on my playback memory. I may not be able to remember one item out of the two I went to the grocery store to buy, but I could hear a piece of music and have it memorized in three or four listens. Unfortunately, I'm coming up to my thirtieth birthday and I'm beginning to realize that my adult brain isn't quite what it was as a child. I could, of course, do what normal people do and underline text which I find meaningful. But what the hell is the point then of keeping a blog? If (all nine of) you find it irritating, please feel free to skip over it :).

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