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Friday, August 5, 2016

Civilization

The Stone Guest. Don Juan and Doña Ana by Ilya Repin 1885
Presumably the statue standing in the background is the 'Stone Guest'.
Civilization goes hand in hand with culture and society. I was going to say one was based on the other, but I couldn't decide which came first.
    All these Islamic Jihadist terrorist attacks are spurring some people to try and figure out what the difference is between us and them, because there is obviously a difference, but facile explanations for their actions do not seem to explain anything at all.
    Marcel points us to a post by Joseph Moore that does some good work in this vein. As a bonus, I picked up a couple of new terms:
  • Stone Guest - Statue of man killed by Don Juan that takes him to hell.
  • Mary Shelley - I recognized the name but didn't recall that she wrote Frankenstein until I looked her up. She hung out with a number of other famous people back in the early 19th Century. I'm not sure that blaming her for widespread misery and death is exactly fair.
  • Kulak - a peasant in Russia wealthy enough to own a farm and hire labor. Emerging after the emancipation of serfs in the 19th century, the kulaks resisted Stalin's forced collectivization, but millions were arrested, exiled, or killed.
And then we have this from the comments:

Gregory of Tours (539-594):
History of the Franks 
PREFACE
HERE BEGINS GREGORY'S FIRST PREFACE
With liberal culture on the wane, or rather perishing in the Gallic cities there were many deeds being done both good and evil: the heathen were raging fiercely; kings were growing more cruel; the church. attacked by heretics, was defended by Catholics; while the Christian faith was in general devoutly cherished, among some it was growing cold; the churches also were enriched by the faithful or plundered by traitors-and no grammarian skilled in the dialectic art could be found to describe these matters either in prose or verse; and many were lamenting and saying: "Woe to our day, since the pursuit of letters has perished from among us and no one can be found among the people who can set forth the deeds of the present on the written page." Hearing continually these complaints and others like them I [have undertaken] to commemorate the past, order that it may come to the knowledge of the future; and although my speech is rude, I have been unable to be silent as to the struggles between the wicked and the upright; and I have been especially ­ encouraged because, to my surprise, it has often been said by men of our day, that few understand the learned words of the rhetorician but many the rude language of the common people.
The comment used the term 'bookish' in place of 'liberal', which I thought a little odd. 'Bookish' seems more appropriate, but that may be because 'liberal' has become such a loaded term in these contentious times.

P.S. Technical note: The Chrome browser's find function cannot find enumerated footnotes in Wordpress web pages.

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