All posts filed under “Culture

library

In Defense of Books

“What does it mean when what you own is essential to who you are? In our everyday grasp of owning things, we tag it materialism, consumerism, consumption. But I trust you’ll agree that the possession of books is not identical to the possession of shoes: Someone with a thousand books is someone you want to talk to; someone with a thousand shoes is someone you suspect of belonging to the Kardashian clan. Books are not objects in the same way that shoes are objects. This is what Milton means in his sublime ‘Areopagitica,’ as necessary now as it was in 1644, when he asserted that ‘books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.’ Potency of life, purest efficacy, living intellect: These are the world-enhancing elements you have in any well-made book worth reading.”

– William Giraldi, “A Bibliophile’s Defense of Physical Books

Header photo via archdaily.com

Guaranteeing a Respect for Mystery

“I have heard it said that belief in Christian dogma is a hindrance to the writer, but I myself have found nothing further from the truth. Actually, it frees the storyteller to observe. It is not a set of rules which fixes what he sees in the world. It affects his writing primarily by guaranteeing his respect for mystery.”

— Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose

Header photo via photoforbeginners.com

Tradition vs. Traditionalism

“The essential thing about tradition is that it creates social continuity. It binds the communal action of the present moment to the communal actions of past moments. What we often call ‘traditionalism,’ the revival of lapsed traditions, is, properly speaking, a kind of innovation, making a new beginning out of an old model. This may or may not be sensible in any given instance, but it is not tradition. The claim of tradition is not the claim of the past over the present, but the claim of the present to that continuity with the past which enables common action to be conceived and executed.”

– Oliver O’Donovan, Common Objects of Love: Moral Reflection and the Shaping of Community

Header photo via wallpaperswide.com

dylan-enigma

Enigma

“Political folkie, country farmer, travelling gypsy, born-again Christian, rustic dandy—Dylan has cycled through a series of musical characters as if playing all the parts in a one-man vaudeville act. It’s been thrilling and curious, and also—most of the time, at least—deeply persuasive. Can fans be blamed for coming under one of these spells—for believing that Dylan meant what he sang at the March on Washington, or wasn’t just messing around when he recorded ‘Self Portrait,’ or for preferring one incarnation above the others and lamenting or resenting that version’s demolition by Dylan’s own revisionism?”

– Ian Crouch, The New Yorker

Photo: Bob Dylan by Brigitte Lacombe

Cole_Thomas_The_Garden_of_Eden_1828

The Mystical Task of Art

“If you confess that the world once was beautiful, but by the curse has become undone, and by a final catastrophe is to pass to its full state of glory, excelling even the beautiful of paradise, then art has the mystical task of reminding us in its productions of the beautiful that was lost and of anticipating its perfect coming luster.”

– Abraham Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism

Header Image: “The Garden of Eden” by Thomas Cole (c.1828)