Thursday, December 19, 2002

Culture Crime

Thursday, 19 December 2002

It's probably time for me to take a break from blogging, at least until after Christmas. So, on the general assumption that this is going to be my last post for a little while, I though that I'd try and finish on a positive note, rather than the last dreary post.

I've just been reminiscing, privately, about the teacher I had for English Literature and 18th Century History in 1972. The whole school knew him as the Doc. After the school acquired an orchestra, thanks to the organising work of a dedicated music teacher, weekly assemblies began with [a march past of] the senior academic staff in mortar boards and black academic gowns [to the strains of Mendelsohn's Academic Festival Overture]. The Doc, who was merely an ordinary teacher but an old and respected one, brought up the rear, in the soft cap and red gown of a Doctor of Philosophy. The Doc's degree was in history, but we are talking about the old days, when scholars were real scholars and a Ph D in history stood for something more than a licence to lie. Even if the Ph D in question was an avowed leftie.

How I came to study Eng Lit and 18th Century Euro under the Doc is another story in itself, but one for another blog. For now, it's enough to say that it was at night school, in the year I took off from study of any kind, to work and save up a few readies before I went on to University. It was the Doc who reccommended to me, and a classroom full of adult students (I was only 17 at the time), that we all read this. In the light of one blogger's suggestion that this represents the sort of world class international best practice we need to adopt to restore the integrity of the academy, I thought I'd finish the year with a small culture crime and quote a so called "key passage" out of context.

We should be wary therefore what persecution we raise against the living labours of publick men, how we spill that season'd life of man preserv'd and stor'd up in Books; since we see a kind of homicide may be thus committed, sometimes a martyrdome, and if it extend to the whole impression, a kinde of massacre, whereof the execution ends not in the slaying of an elementall life, but strikes at that ethereall and fift essence, the breath of reason it selfe, slaies an immortality rather then a life.

Now go and read the whole thing. Please.

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