Monday, June 02, 2008

Barbarians again

~Anthony Esolen continues his series on barbarians. From Part II (I especially like the comment on church music):
I am not saying that a taste for great art inoculates one against evil, or even against a certain barbarism. I am saying that barbarism goes along nicely with "art" that fails to elevate one's soul above the passions of the passing hour (Christian rock, perhaps?), and usually those are the grosser passions, too. If you enjoy Shakespeare, you may still be a barbarian. But if you do not have the capacity, because you do not have the intellectual and emotional discipline, to love virtue, then you will probably also shirk the attention that Sidney and Tallis and Shakespeare demand. You'll fall back upon the easy fix. So did the Royal Shakespeare Company recently, giving the world a Bottom who swived the fairy Titania, and did it with jouncing and asinine braying. Come to think of it, that would have been better than Project Peace. Maybe better than much of what passes for church music, too. Someone's braying, Lord, kumbaya.
And from Part III:
the barbarian is missing something central to being human: living as a free man with duties and responsibilities in a community, taking part in spirited debate, and not having to duck and scrape when some big shot from a distant Persepolis descends with the imperial decree. The free man is both a dutiful son of his country and a father for it; the city commands his allegiance, but it is also in part his creation, his patrimony, which he will pass along to his descendants in turn. The Greeks claim that when this political liberty -- it is not the radical individualism of a Cyclops in his cave -- is lacking, that itself is barbaric, regardless of whether the people possess sweet and gentle manners. My family and I are preparing to go north for the summer, where the people of Canada have had the liberties of their small communities snatched from them by a bad constitution and a tyrannical court. They are, as one defender of liberty has put it, a Nation of Bastards, wards of the state. This novel kind of barbarism does overgo the barbarism of Persia, though, because the ancient Persians were willing enough to grant their outlands a measure of home rule; witness Cyrus's humane returning of the Jews to their homeland. Chief Justice McLachlin of Canada will not allow such local variations for a Calgary or a Thunder Bay. When it comes to detaching Canadians from the very culture that gave rise to Canada in the first place, only a mockery of debate is allowed. And only the shreds and patches of political opposition, too. Approach the presence, Clayton, Terence, Angus. Bow with awful reverence prone, flat as the Canadian shield. I'm not gloating over you, my friends of the permafrost. We in America will soon be leaving our nose-prints in the dirt, too.

No comments: