Unfortunately, it’s always a lot more complicated than good guys vs bad guys.
Isn’t a form of teaching that avoids all prescription really a form of therapy? In a course called Classical Studies taught by teachers who possess scarcely a word of Latin or Greek, suffering is avoided, but isn’t it true that nothing is gained except the absence of suffering? In his best novel, White Noise, Don DeLillo made a running joke out of a professor of German history who could not read German. But the time has already arrived when such a joke does not register as funny. What have we gained, except a classroom in which no one need feel excluded?
Of course, today’s pedagogue will say that nobody feeling excluded is so valuable that nothing else matters in comparison. In the USSR, it was believed that the only reason why a student is getting bad grades is that the teacher is undertrained and needs more training. But today things are worse. If a student isn’t doing great it can only mean that the teacher is racist / sexist / classist / homophobic, etc. This is a lot worse than being undertrained because it’s a moral failing.
So hey, Americans, congratulations! You out-dumbed the USSR. What an achievement.
In the 1990s, I saw how in Russia people who sincerely believed in democracy falsified an election. They thought they were saving democracy this way. They thought it was OK to do it just this once for a really good cause.
And yes, there were cynical operators, too, but I’m talking about good, sincere people who convinced themselves that it’s ok to cheat if something really important is at stake. And the fate of democracy seemed important enough.
It worked in the sense that they “won” the election. But there’s been nothing even remotely remotely resembling democracy in Russia since.
I’m repeating this boring story because the blueprint for stealing this election is openly available on Axios. And it’s for a very good cause which is to save democracy from a unique threat.
Here’s the Clive James quote of the day, my friends. I will not insult your intelligence by explaining how relevant it is to what we are experiencing today. Good morning and let’s find time today to enjoy good books.
Science lives in a perpetual present, and must always discard its own past as it advances. (If a contemporary thermodynamicist refers to the literature on phlogiston, he will do so as a humanist, not as a scientist. Nor did Edwin Hubble need to know about Ptolemy, although he did.) The humanities do not advance in that sense: they accumulate, and the past is always retained. The two forms of knowledge thus have fundamentally different kinds of history. A scientist can revisit scientific history at his choice. A humanist has no choice: he must revisit the history of the humanities all the time, because it is always alive, and can’t be superseded. Two different kinds of history, and two different kinds of time. Humanist time runs both ways: an arrow with a head at each end.
A friend from Africa and I are gossiping.
“The reason he is this way is that he’s from such a small family,” she says. “He only has two siblings!”