Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Cultural Literacy Test that you will probably fail

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"Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by / That here, obedient to their laws / We lie"

If you aren't familiar with 8 out of the 10 items below, you were deceived by those who claimed they were educating you.

Imaginative Conservative, Joseph Pearce

"Evelyn Waugh, in his magnum opus, Brideshead Revisited, a novel which was itself inspired by a line in one of Chesterton’s Father Brown stories, lampoons the “hollow men” produced by the modern academy in his portrayal of Hooper and Rex Mottram. Hooper had “no special illusions distinguishable from the general, enveloping fog from which he observed the universe:”
Hooper had wept often, but never for Henry’s speech on St. Crispin’s day, nor for the epitaph at Thermopylae. The history they taught him had had few battles in it but, instead, a profusion of detail about humane legislation and recent industrial change. Gallipoli, Balaclava, Quebec, Lepanto, Bannockburn, Roncesvales, and Marathon—these, and the Battle in the West where Arthur fell, and a hundred such names whose trumpet-notes, even now in my sere and lawless state, called to me irresistibly across the intervening years with all the clarity and strength of boyhood, sounded in vain to Hooper…[i]
Like Hooper, the character of Rex Mottram serves to personify the “hollow man,” the crass product of the modern, disintegrated academy. In the words of Julia, his wife, he is not only ignorant but also, and even worse, he is utterly ignorant of his ignorance:
You know Father Mowbray hit on the truth about Rex at once, that it took me a year of marriage to see. He simply wasn’t all there. He wasn’t a complete human being at all. He was a tiny bit of one, unnaturally developed… I thought he was a sort of primitive savage, but he was something absolutely modern and up-to-date that only this ghastly age could produce. A tiny bit of a man pretending he was whole…[ii]
Let’s leave the “men without chests” to ponder their own navels and the “hollow men” to their own vacuity; and let’s remind ourselves of the great books written by great men, such as Chesterton, Eliot, Lewis and Waugh. And let’s remember that great men write great books because of the Great Books that they’ve read. If the twenty-first century is to produce more great men and more great books, it will have to restore a true education; and a true education is an education as if truth mattered."

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