243: The New Children.

A whole page of print now intimidates many people, and not just the type of people whom a page of print has always intimidated; at a Paris airport there was, until two or three years ago, a very good bookshop, but it has now been replaced by a pharmacy. It is not that passengers read books that they have downloaded on their electronic devices; on the contrary, they play games or watch films on them, or leaf through glossy magazines in a desultory way. And literary pages in French newspapers and magazines now review comic-strip books with as much seriousness as any other type of book. Adults are the new children […]

Schopenhauer thought that too strong a desire to read indicated a desire to avoid thought, and certainly the wisest person is not he who has read most. The desire to avoid thought is by no means rare; patients would quite often ask me whether I could stop them thinking — not any particular thoughts, but thoughts in general because they were apt to disturb. They wanted the benefits of consciousness without its pains. The means of distraction are now both easier and more diversified than in the heyday of reading, and perhaps the need for them is greater, insofar as people have more time on their hands than ever before and more leisure to think. It is not surprising, then, that whatever they are doing, wherever they are and whoever they are with, they are really trying to do something else, to be somewhere else, with somebody else. Escape is the desire of most of mankind most of the time.

(Theodore Dalrymple, “A Quick Word,” Taki’s Magazine, November 7, 2015).

Anúncios
243: The New Children.

241: Old Maxim.

My first promotion was my being chosen, in 1736, clerk of the General Assembly. The choice was made that year without opposition; but the year following, when I was again proposed (the choice, like that of the members, being annual), a new member made a long speech against me, in order to favor some other candidate. I was, however, chosen, which was the more agreeable to me, as, besides the pay for the immediate service as clerk, the place gave me a better opportunity of keeping up an interest among the members, which secured to me the business of printing the votes, laws, paper money, and other occasional jobs for the public, that, on the whole, were very profitable.

I therefore did not like the opposition of this new member, who was a gentleman of fortune and education, with talents that were likely to give him, in time, great influence in the House, which, indeed, afterwards happened. I did not, however, aim at gaining his favor by paying any servile respect to him, but, after some time, took this other method. Having heard that he had in his library a certain very scarce and curious book, I wrote a note to him, expressing my desire of perusing that book, and requesting he would do me the favor of lending it to me for a few days. He sent it immediately, and I returned it in about a week with another note, expressing strongly my sense of the favor. When we next met in the House, he spoke to me (which he had never done before), and with great civility; and he ever after manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions, so that we be came great friends, and our friendship continued to his death. This is another instance of the truth of an old maxim I had learned, which says, “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.”

(Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography. New York: Henry Holt & Company, 1912, p. 111).

241: Old Maxim.

240: He Tweeted That.

It’s never been so easy to pretend to know so much without actually knowing anything. […] According to a recent survey by the American Press Institute, nearly six in 10 Americans acknowledge that they do nothing more than read news headlines — and I know this only because I skimmed a Washington Post headline about the survey. After we’ve skimmed, we share. Commenters frequently start their posts with TL;DR — short for Too Long; Didn’t Read — and then proceed to offer an opinion on the subject at hand anyway. As Tony Haile, the chief executive of the web traffic analytics company Chartbeat, recently put it, “We’ve found effectively no correlation between social shares and people actually reading.” (He tweeted that.)

(Karl Taro Greenfeld, “Faking Cultural Literacy,” The New York Times, May 24, 2014).

240: He Tweeted That.

239: Arrogância.

Qualquer coisa ou idéia que todas as civilizações tenham admitido como boas e úteis durante milênios devem ser olhadas com respeito, cuidado e reverência, para você não cair na esparrela do herdeiro que dilapida o patrimônio sem saber como ele foi construído nem como se faz outro.

Nada mais grotesco do que os juízes da humanidade, que hoje pululam aos milhões por toda parte, condenando o que não compreendem, sempre incapazes, no entanto, de lançar o menor olhar crítico aos preconceitos da sua própria época que os estimulam a tamanha arrogância.

(Olavo de Carvalho, Facebook, 31 de Agosto de 2014).

239: Arrogância.

238: Telescopic Philanthropy.

The mark of genuine charity is (in Greek) storge, or loving-kindness, and while such love may be bestowed upon objects that seem utterly alien to the giver, it is not the strangeness that attracts but the recognition of some common bond, whether it is common humanity or, in the case of lower animals, some resemblance of human qualities.

Charity does begin at home, and the burden of charity is most easily discharged toward those with whom we are already connected by bonds of blood and experience. Charity toward strangers requires effort, and the more foreign the stranger, the greater the effort required. I am speaking now of the natural charity that grows and expands with the maturing conscience of the individual, as distinguished from what is generally meant in politics by “compassion,” which is the artificial sense of benevolence we are taught to feel in doing good deeds by long distance. In the latter case, the reverse is true: Americans who will not take a bowl of soup to a sick neighbor will weep over the fate of starving Albanians whose pictures they see on television, and even in their own country their concern with poverty and family dissolution is inevitably limited to inner-city blacks or to the poor of the Appalachians, their desire to propagate the Gospel confined to Asians and Hispanics; their zeal to improve public education directed primarily at minority advancement.

All these goals are laudable in themselves, and whorty men and women may well chose to devote themselves to pursuing the welfare of foreigners as a sort of special vocation, but what seems to be far more common is the “telescopic philanthropy” of Mrs. Jellyby in Bleak House, whose eyes — so farsighted that “they could see nothing nearer than Africa” — overlook the needs of her own children, friends, and neighbors.

(Thomas Fleming, The Morality of Everyday Life. Columbia and London: University of Missouri Press, 2004, pp. 86–87).

238: Telescopic Philanthropy.

237: Clear Your Mind of Cant.

My dear friend, clear your mind of cant. You may talk as other people do: you may say to a man, “Sir, I am your most humble servant.” You are not his most humble servant. […] You may talk in this manner; it is a mode of talking in Society; but don’t think foolishly.

(James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, Vol. 8. London: John Murray, 1835, p. 215).

237: Clear Your Mind of Cant.