by Walt Whitman
Behavior–fresh, native, copious, each one for himself or herself,
Nature and the Soul expressed–America and freedom expressed–In it the finest art,
In it pride, cleanliness, sympathy, to have their chance,
In it physique, intellect, faith–in it just as much as to manage an army or a city, or to write a book–perhaps more,
The youth, the laboring person, the poor person, rivalling all the rest–perhaps outdoing the rest,
The effects of the universe no greater than its;
For there is nothing in the whole universe that can be more effective than a man’s or woman’s daily behavior can be,
In any position, in any one of These States.
Leo Tolstoy, or Count Lyev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (September 9, 1828 – November 20, 1910), was a Russian writer many consider to have been one of the world’s greatest novelists. His literary masterpieces War and Peace and Anna Karenina represent, in their scope, breadth and vivid depiction of 19th-century Russian life and attitudes, the peak of realist fiction.
Tolstoy’s further talents as essayist, dramatist, and educational reformer made him the most influential member of the aristocratic Tolstoy family. His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus, centering on the Sermon on the Mount, caused him in later life to become a fervent Christian anarchist and anarcho-pacifist. His ideas on nonviolent resistance, expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God Is Within You, were to have a profound impact on such pivotal twentieth-century figures as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
His fiction consistently attempts to convey realistically the Russian society in which he lived.The Cossacks (1863) describes the Cossack life and people through a story of a Russian aristocrat in love with a Cossack girl. Anna Karenina (1877) tells parallel stories of an adulterous woman trapped by the conventions and falsities of society and of a philosophical landowner (much like Tolstoy), who works alongside the peasants in the fields and seeks to reform their lives. Tolstoy not only drew from his own life experiences but also created characters in his own image, such as Pierre Bezukhov and Prince Andrei in War and Peace, Levin in Anna Karenina and to some extent, Prince Nekhlyudov in Resurrection.
War and Peace is generally thought to be one of the greatest novels ever written, remarkable for its dramatic breadth and unity. Its vast canvas includes 580 characters, many historical with others fictional. The story moves from family life to the headquarters of Napoleon, from the court of Alexander I of Russia to the battlefields of Austerlitz and Borodino. Tolstoy’s original idea for the novel was to investigate the causes of the Decembrist revolt, to which it refers only in the last chapters, from which can be deduced that Andrei Bolkonski’s son will become one of the Decembrists.
The novel explores Tolstoy’s theory of history, and in particular the insignificance of individuals such as Napoleon and Alexander. Somewhat surprisingly, Tolstoy did not consider War and Peace to be a novel (nor did he consider many of the great Russian fictions written at that time to be novels). This view becomes less surprising if one considers that Tolstoy was a novelist of the realist school who considered the novel to be a framework for the examination of social and political issues in nineteenth-century life.War and Peace (which is to Tolstoy really an epic in prose) therefore did not qualify. Tolstoy thought that Anna Karenina was his first true novel.
After Anna Karenina, Tolstoy concentrated on Christian themes, and his later novels such as The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886) and What Is to Be Done? develop a radical anarcho–pacifist Christian philosophy which led to his excommunication from the Russian Orthodox Church in 1901. For all the praise showered on Anna Karenina and War and Peace, Tolstoy rejected the two works later in his life as something not as true of reality. Such an argument is supported in The Death of Ivan Ilyich, whose main character continually battles with his family and servants, demanding honesty above the water and food needed to sustain him.
One hundred years after his death, Leo Tolstoy’s moral authority grows. The Russian writer was a forerunner in the battle against lack of faith and values
ABC – By MAURICIO WIESENTHAL (English Translation)
The epics and literature of our classical world were the work of true masters: men who had a “moral authority.” Do not write to entertain a lazy and boring people, but to inform their readers an experience of life.
Present a discussion of the writer as a moral authority would be an event in this centennial Tolstói, because no one seems to know and what that means. There are writers, proud of our awards and our sales figures. What does faith mean for men? What values do we propose to society? What are stories rather than sellers of paper?
The Western world, devoid of faith and moral authority, and leaving vast deserts of ideas and values in the souls of men. And these dry heathland of disappointment and boredom are clearly visible from any enemy that has a minimum of intelligence and strength.
Deserts are always moral “space conquest.” No wonder the fans redouble their blows and their raids in those gaps where they see the weakness of his enemy. Many years ago, a camel in the Sahara taught me that men of the desert to their children a wise and prudent caution: if the Sheikh is building a citadel on the highest rock, invaded the region will sooner or later, by a tribe bandit…
Materialism destroys us and drags us in the fall because of lack of values. And, on the other hand, in our moral desert without citadels, fanaticism, superstition always find to praise terrorists and suicide bombers. We serve the beautiful grounds of “calm rationalist atheism” to fight against this barbarism.
Tolstoy was already a pioneer in this battle, when he rebelled against rationalist coldness and warmth of modern relativism. We must respond with our hearts and our faith. This is a challenge that, at this time of the centenary of Tolstoy, it clearly raises the young.
I do not know if a contemporary can presume to know better teacher for having dealt personally. I had to settle for reading patiently works, biographies and letters of Tolstoy, looking for his friends and disciples, visiting their world and often visiting their homes in Russia.
The darkness of the centuries
It hurt in my soul to see that my contemporaries Tolstoy spoke like a lost archaeological remains in the dark ages. I was sorry to see in young people a distant and dusty image of the teacher, creating a false distance obscurantism experts were smoked intentionally to create a shadowy effect. I realized that in the showcase of modern materialistic world, experts in obscure and hide, as there are specialists in lighting.
It is very easy to run a focus on stage to give strength to a helper and, conversely, a leading figure darken lights out. Neither communists nor capitalists, nor pious or atheist Tolstoy loved figure, the old Russian prophet, reading the Gospel of St. Matthew, was founded a philosophy of nonviolence. And at the end of his life, many considered him an old fool, more than a teacher-especially since because of their mystical ideas but rebels, had been excommunicated by the Russian Church.
But despite the crude materialism of the twentieth century wanted to separate us from the spiritual past of Europe and wanted to entertain with fireworks, some of us realized that Tolstoy was not too far and that his diatribes against falling values and lack of faith were exciting. Because the “moral authority” is not only the basis of politics but also touching base of the great literature.
Not all the past had been sunk in darkness and in the distance, as they wanted us to believe the vendors ‘new’. Alexandra Lvovna Tolstaia “Tolstoy’s daughter, lived in Valley Cottage in 1972 when I got to meet this faithful companion of his last desperate run. It was almost nonagenarian, but still took care of orphans and migrants, and in the Tolstoy Foundation, kept alive the educational ideals, humanistic and moral of his father. It was she who helped Nabokov and Rachmaninoff to escape the Bolsheviks.
I was touched by the presence of “thought” in partibus infidelium Tolstoy, because here in the United States, were also the strongest and most optimistic advocates of the new capitalist revolution and the apostles of neglect of the values of the Old World. West has produced much of the materialistic and immoral propaganda we eagerly consumed, especially since the puppets of the Iron Curtain left to represent when they collapsed on stage.
The dead are very much alive
Yet, Americans have lost their cultural identity symbols and values. They believe in their precursors and its pioneers, maintain and defend their faith to the heroism of a democratically governed country that politics does not corrupt the ideals of the culture …
Grave and hesitating, serious and hesitantly, “we read in Whitman– I write these words: The dead are alive. Maybe they are the only living, the only real, and mine appeared, I am the ghost. ” Do we feel that shame the Europeans to commemorate the centenary of Tolstoy? Will we have the courage to proclaim that our dead are also live?
Perhaps it is too late to Tolstoy, and even for Nietzsche, that would be tougher with some philanthropists of the policy (now called them “buenistas). We have lost the idea of common good that was so important to Christianity and to Tolstoy: “The kingdom of God is within you.” But the common good implies duties and rights, while the ‘philanthropic goodism “was always to give what we ask, without responsibility or discretion to leave us alone …
We respect ourselves, and Tolstoy would say why do not we love … We have created a globalizing world capable of enormous material wealth, but are unable to globalize the infinite moral and spiritual wealth we have in our science and our culture …
Do we expect anything that resembles universal happiness spasmodic possession of material wealth? … No one reads and the Gospel of St. John?: “Knowledge of truth is what will make you free” … Half the world believes in true fans without freedom. And the other half looking for an experience of freedom without truth.
They are not politicians who can retrieve the values of our culture, but requires “moral authority” …
Too many intellectuals believe they have a duty to make decisions for the rest of us.
NRO – By David Hogberg
In his 1988 book Intellectuals: From Marx and Tolstoy to Sartre and Chomsky, Paul Johnson wrote that one of the lessons of the 20th century was “beware intellectuals. Not merely should they be kept well away from the levers of power, they should also be objects of suspicion when they seek to offer collective advice.”
Not long after Johnson released his book, economist Thomas Sowell appeared on the C-SPAN program Booknotes. The host, Brian Lamb, asked Sowell what his next book would focus on, and he said he was considering writing about intellectuals. When Lamb asked how his book would be different from Johnson’s, Sowell threatened, “Mine would not be as generous as his.”
With his new work, Intellectuals and Society, Sowell has finally made good on his 20-year-old promise to write about intellectuals. He has also made good on his threat. Sowell takes aim at the class of people who influence our public debate, institutions, and policy. Few of Sowell’s targets are left standing at the end, and those who are stagger back to their corner, bloody and bruised.
What makes Intellectuals and Society even more withering than Johnson’s historical-biographical work is that Sowell approaches his subject as an economist, analyzing the incentives and constraints intellectuals face. Sowell defines intellectuals as an occupation, as people whose “work begins and ends with ideas.”
…An intellectual’s reputation, then, depends not on whether his ideas are verifiable but on the plaudits of his fellow intellectuals. That the Corvair was as safe as any other car on the road has not cut into Ralph Nader’s speaking fees, nor has the failure of hundreds of millions of people to starve to death diminished Paul Ehrlich’s access to grant money. They only have to maintain the esteem of the intelligentsia to keep the gravy train running.
Intellectuals, of course, have expertise — highly specialized knowledge of a particular subject. The problem, according to Sowell, is that they think their superior knowledge in one area means they have superior knowledge in most other areas. Yet knowledge is so vast and dispersed that it is doubtful that any one person has even 1 percent of the knowledge available. Even the brightest intellectuals cannot possibly know all the needs, wants, and preferences of millions of people. Unfortunately, they have considerable incentive to behave as if they do.
Sowell notes another important distinction between intellectuals and other professions. “There is a spontaneous demand from the larger society for the end products of engineering, medical and scientific professions,” he writes, “while whatever demand there is for the end products of linguists or historians comes largely from educational institutions or is created by intellectuals themselves.” Members of other professions can achieve fame and fortune by finding ways to meet the demand for their end products…
The most telling portions of Intellectuals and Society are the ones in which Sowell chronicles the disasters that occur when intellectuals succeed in getting politicians, judges, and other policymakers to impose their vision on society. In the section on crime, Sowell examines what happened to the U.S. when intellectuals imposed on the criminal-justice system their vision of crime as being as much the fault of society as of the individual.
In the 1960s, the Warren Court made it more difficult to convict and imprison criminals with decisions such as Miranda and Mapp. Other judges and policymakers followed with an effort to alleviate the so-called “root causes” of crime, such as poverty and discrimination. Rehabilitation was emphasized over prolonged imprisonment. The result was a reversal of a decades-long improvement in the crime rate. For example, in 1961 the murder rate was half what it had been in 1933. By 1974, it was double that of 1961.
By the early 1990s, voters had had enough and began electing politicians who emphasized longer prison terms for convicted criminals. As incarceration rates rose, crime rates dropped. Yet this made no dent in the vision of the intellectuals. The New York Times ran numerous variations on the article headlined “Crime Keeps Falling, but Prisons Keep On Filling.”
Times columnist Tom Wicker dismissed voters’ desire for tougher penalties as “panicky public fears and punitive public attitudes.” Sowell notes that this is a common tactic among intellectuals, to dismiss the differing views of others and treat them as “mere emotions (‘panicky’), rather than as arguments that had to be analyzed and answered with facts.”
…Sowell’s book serves not only as a history of intellectuals but also as a guide to what is currently unfolding in the United States. A constant theme in Intellectuals and Society is the intellectual as a “surrogate decision-maker” who thinks his preferences should override those of the parties directly involved in a decision.
For example, Sowell notes that intellectuals often complain that they do not understand why corporate executives are paid such high salaries, “as if there is any inherent reason why third parties should be expected to understand, or why their understanding and acquiescence should be necessary, in order for those who are directly involved in hiring and paying corporate executives to proceed on the basis of their own knowledge and experience, in a matter in which they have a stake and intellectuals do not.”
However, companies that received TARP money do need the acquiescence of White House pay czar Kenneth Feinberg, who recently decreed that the top executives at these companies could not earn more than $500,000 annually. That Feinberg has no experience at running a company, and that it will be the employees and stockholders of those companies, and not Feinberg, who will suffer the consequences of that decision, is consistent with an administration culled from the anointed…
The intellectuals of today are continuing a long tradition, according to Sowell, going back at least to Rousseau, who dismissed the masses as “a stupid, pusillanimous invalid.” He was succeeded by John Stuart Mill, who said that intellectuals are “the best and wisest” and “those who have been in advance of society in thought and feeling.” If Mill were not long dead, it would be easy to conclude that he ghost-wrote George Clooney’s Academy Awards acceptance speech for Syriana.
In a way, Clooney represents one of the few weaknesses of Intellectuals and Society. Sowell excoriates intellectuals for believing that their superior knowledge in one area can be generalized to other areas, but he states that “chess grandmasters, musical prodigies and others who are . . . remarkable within their respective specialties . . . seldom make that mistake.” Yet actors and singers seem to be making it almost every day now.
The likes of Clooney, Sheryl Crow, Rosie O’Donnell, and many others never seem to tire of giving us the benefit of their ignorance. Sowell should extend his analysis further into what motivates people to pronounce on matters over which they have no expertise. After all, most celebrities already have oodles of fame and fortune and don’t need to make reckless and foolish public statements in order to get a share of the limelight…
Churches Forced to Close
Hudson New York – By Soeren Kern
The city of Barcelona, widely known as a European Mecca of anti-clerical postmodernism, has agreed to build an official mega-mosque with a capacity for thousands of Muslim worshipers. The new structure would rival the massive Islamic Cultural Center in Madrid, currently the biggest mosque in Spain. An official in the office of the Mayor of Barcelona says the objective is to increase the visibility of Muslims in Spain, as well as to promote the “common values between Islam and Europe.”
The Barcelona mosque project is just one of dozens of new mosques that are in various stages of construction across Spain. Overall, there are now thirteen mega-mosques in Spain, and more than 1000 smaller mosques and prayer centers scattered across the country, the majority of which are located in Catalonia in northeastern Spain.
The Muslim building spree reflects the rising influence of Islam in Spain, where the Muslim population has jumped to an estimated 1.5 million in 2010, up from just 100,000 in 1990, thanks to massive immigration. The construction of new mosques comes at a time when municipalities linked to the Socialist Party have closed dozens of Christian churches across Spain by way of new zoning laws that several courts have now ruled discriminatory and unconstitutional. It also comes at a time of growing anti-Semitism in Spain.
The Barcelona mosque project was announced during a weeklong seminar titled “Muslims and European Values,” jointly sponsored by the European Council of Moroccan Ulemas [Muslim religious scholars], based in Brussels, and the Union of Islamic Cultural Centers in Catalonia, based in Barcelona. A representative of the Barcelona mayor’s office who attended the conference told the Madrid-based El País newspaper that the municipality would get involved in the mosque project because “although religion pertains to the private realm, this does not mean it does not have a public role.”
The idea to build a mega-mosque funded by Spanish taxpayers comes after Noureddine Ziani, a Barcelona-based Moroccan imam, said the construction of big mosques would be the best way to fight Islamic fundamentalism in Spain. “It is easier to disseminate fundamentalist ideas in small mosques set up in garages where only the members of the congregation attend, than in large mosques that are open to everyone, with prayer rooms, cafes and meeting areas,” Ziani told the Spanish news agency EFE. He also said European governments should pay for the training of imams, which would be “a useful formula to avoid radical positions.”
The Barcelona mosque would be that city’s answer to the six-story, 12,000 square meter (130,000 square feet) Islamic Cultural Center in Madrid, which opened in 1992 and is one of the biggest mosques in Europe. It was paid for by the government of Saudi Arabia, as was the €22 million ($30 million) Islamic Cultural Center in Málaga, a small city in southern Spain that is home to almost 100,000 Muslims. (The center’s website includes politically correct “news,” with headlines such as “Christian Palestine under Zionist Occupation” and “Julian Assange Victim of the Empire of Evil.”)
Saudi Arabia, which also built the “great mosques” in the Spanish cities of Marbella and Fuengirola, has been accused of using the mosques and Islamic cultural centers in Spain to promote the Wahhabi sect of Islam dominant in Saudi Arabia. Wahhabism rejects all non-Wahhabi Islam, any dialogue with other religions and any opening up to other cultures. By definition, it also rejects the integration of Muslim immigrants into Spanish society.
Not surprisingly, the Saudi government officially supports the Alliance of Civilizations, an initiative sponsored by Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, which borrows heavily from the Dialogue of Civilizations concept promoted by Islamic radicals in Iran in the 1990s — an the initiative calls for the West to negotiate a truce with Islamic terrorists on terms set by the terrorists.
In December 2000, the Islamic Cultural Center in Madrid was expelled from the Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Entities (FEERI) to “frustrate the attempts of Saudi Arabia to control Islam in Spain.” Most Muslim immigrants in Spain are from the Maghreb (especially Morocco and Algeria) or Pakistan; analysts say their low standards of living and low levels of education make them particularly susceptible to the Islamist propaganda promoted by Saudi Arabia.
Elsewhere in Spain, residents of the Basque city of Bilbao were recently surprised to find their mailboxes stuffed with flyers in Spanish and Arabic from the Islamic Community of Bilbao asking them for money to build a 650 square meter mosque costing €550,000 ($725,000). Their website says: “We were expelled [from Spain] as Moriscos in 1609, really not that long ago. … The echo of Al-Andalus still resonates in all the valley of the Ebro [ie Spain]. We are back to stay, Insha’Allah [if Allah wills it].”
Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to the parts of Spain ruled by Muslim conquerors from 711 and 1492. Many Muslims believe that the territories they lost during the Spanish Reconquista still belong to them, and that they have a right to return and establish their rule there – a belief based on the Islamic precept that territories once occupied by Muslims must forever remain under Muslim domination.
The Moriscos, descendants of the Muslim population that converted to Christianity under threat of exile in 1502, were ultimately expelled from Spain by King Philip III in 1609. Muslim leaders say Spain could right the wrong by offering Spanish citizenship to the Muslim descendants of the Moriscos as an “apology and acknowledgement of mistakes” made during the Spanish Inquisition.
In Córdoba, Muslims are demanding that the Spanish government allow them to worship in the main cathedral, which had been a mosque during the medieval Islamic kingdom of Al-Andalus and is now a World Heritage Site. Muslims hope to recreate the ancient city of Córdoba as a pilgrimage site for Muslims throughout Europe. Funds for the project to turn “Córdoba into the Mecca of the West” are being sought from the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, and Muslim organizations in Morocco and Egypt.
In Granada, a city in southern Spain that was the last Muslim stronghold of Al-Andalus to capitulate to the Roman Catholic kings in 1492, a muezzin now calls Muslims to prayer at the first mosque to be opened in the city since the Spanish Reconquista. The Great Mosque of Granada “is a symbol of a return to Islam among the Spanish people and among indigenous Europeans,” says Abdel Haqq Salaberria, a spokesman for the mosque. “It will act as a focal point for the Islamic revival in Europe,” he says. It was paid for by Libya, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.
In Lleida, a town in northeastern Spain where 29,000 Muslims make up 20% of the population, the local Islamic association Watani recently asked Moroccan King Mohammad VI for money to build a mosque in the center of town. Local Muslims are incensed that the municipality gave them land to build a mosque on the outskirts of town and not in the city center. Although the municipality gave the land more than three years ago, the local Muslim community has refused to apply for a formal license: it is demanding a more “dignified location for the Muslim community to worship.”
In Zaragoza, the fifth-largest city in Spain, the 22,000-strong Islamic community has been negotiating the purchase of an abandoned Roman Catholic grade school for €3 million. In September, however, a group of 200 teenage anarchist squatters took over the property (a seemingly normal occurrence in Spain), but a local judge has refused to remove them for “security” reasons. The local imam is now demanding a “big and visible location” for a mosque: many Muslims view the city as “theirs” and they want a way to show it.
Meanwhile, the Madrid-based ABC newspaper reports that more than 100 mosques in Spain have radical imams preaching to the faithful each Friday. The newspaper says some imams have established religious police that harass and attack those who do not comply with Islamic law. ABC also reports that during 2010, more than 10 Salafist conferences were held in Spain, compared to only one in 2008.
Salafism is a branch of revivalist Islam that calls for restoring past Muslim glory by re-establishing an Islamic empire across the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Europe. Salafists view Spain as a Muslim state that must be reconquered for Islam.
At the same time, Noureddine Ziani, the Moroccan imam, says it is absolutely necessary to accept Islamic values as European values. He also says that from now on, Europeans should replace the term “Judeo-Christian” with term “Islamo-Christian” when describing Western Civilization.
Textetc – By C. John Holcombe
Modernism is where we are now, broadly speaking, if we include Postmodernism and experimental poetry. Modernist poetry is the poetry written in schools and poetry workshops, published by thousands of small presses, and reviewed by serious newspapers and literary journals — a highbrow, coterie poetry that isn’t popular and doesn’t profess to be.
To its devotees, Modernist styles are the only way of dealing with contemporary matters, and they do not see them as a specialized development of traditional poetry, small elements being pushed in unusual directions, and sometimes extended beyond the limits of ready comprehension.
The key elements of Modernist poems are experimentation, anti-realism, individualism and a stress on the cerebral rather than emotive aspects. Previous writing was thought to be stereotyped, requiring ceaseless experimentation and rejection of old forms. Poetry should represent itself, or the writer’s inner nature, rather than hold up a mirror to nature.
Indeed the poet’s vision was all-important, however much it cut him off from society or the scientific concerns of the day. Poets belonged to an aristocracy of the avant garde, and cool observation, detachment and avoidance of simple formulations were essential.
Poststructuralist theories come in many embodiments, but shared a preoccupation with language. Reality is not mediated by what we read or write, but is entirely constituted by those actions. We don’t therefore look at the world through a poem, and ask how whether the representation is true or adequate or appropriate, but focus on the devices and strategies within the text itself.
Modernist theory urged us to overlook the irrelevancies of author’s intention, historical conventions and social context to assess the aesthetic unity of the poem. Poststructuralist criticism discounts any such unity, and urges us to accept a looser view of art, one that accords more with everyday realities and shows how language suppresses alternative views, particularly those of the socially or politically disadvantaged.
Experimental poetry takes the process further, taking its inspiration from advertising, and deploying words as graphic elements. Modernism has no precise boundaries. At its strictest, in Anglo-American literature, the period runs from 1890 to 1920 and includes Joyce, Pound, Eliot and Wyndham Lewis among many others. But few of its writers shared common aims, and the term was applied retrospectively.
Very largely, the themes of Modernism begin well back in the nineteenth century, and many do not reach full expression until the latter half of the twentieth century, so that Modernism is perhaps better regarded as part of a broad plexus of concerns which are variably represented in a hundred and twenty years of European writing.
Modernism is a useful term because writing in the period, especially that venerated by academia and by literary critics, is intellectually challenging, which makes it suitable for undergraduate study. Many serious writers come from university, moreover, and set sail by Modernism’s charts, so that the assumptions need to be understood to appreciate contemporary work of any type. And quite different from these is the growing suspicion that contemporary writing has lost its way, which suggests that we may see where alternatives lie if we understand Modernism better.
Modernism evolved by various routes. From Symbolism it took allusiveness in style and an interest in rarefied mental states. From Realism it borrowed an urban setting, and a willingness to break taboos. And from Romanticism came an artist-centred view, and retreat into irrationalism and hallucinations. Even its founding fathers did not long remain Modernists. Pound espoused doctrinaire right-wing views. Eliot became a religious convert. Joyce’s late work verged on the surrealistic. Lewis quarrelled with everyone.
No one would willingly lose the best that has been written in the last hundred years, but earlier doubts are coming home to roost. Modernism’s ruthless self-promotion creates intellectual castes that cut themselves off from the hopes and joys of everyday life. The poetry can be built on the flimsiest of foundations: Freudian psychiatry, verbal cleverness, individualism run riot, anti-realism, over-emphasis on the irrational.
The concepts themselves are fraudulent, and the supporting myths too small and self-admiring to show man in his fullest nature. Sales of early Modernist works were laughably small, and it was largely after the Second World War, when the disciples of Modernism rose to positions of influence in the academic and publishing worlds, that Modernism came the lingua franca of the educated classes.
The older generation of readers gradually died out. Literature for them was connoisseurship, a lifetime of deepening familiarity with authors who couldn’t be analyzed in critical theory, or packed into three-year undergraduate courses.
The scholar, author and Internet trailblazer created a ‘daily reading list — with attitude’ that links readers to provocative, erudite writing about books, culture and ideas.
LA Times – By Elaine Woo
Denis Dutton, a scholar, author and Internet trailblazer who founded Arts & Letters Daily, a pithy website that links thousands of devoted followers around the world to smart, provocative writing online about books, culture and ideas, died Tuesday in Christchurch, New Zealand, where he taught philosophy at Canterbury University. He was 66.
Denis Dutton wrote books (including “The Art Instinct,” an engaging treatise on the evolution of imagination, published in 2009) but did not join the family bookselling business. He did, however, share his brothers’ enterprising spirit. He launched a scholarly journal, Philosophy and Literature, now run by Johns Hopkins University Press.
Determined to recirculate out-of-print academic works, he ventured into electronic book publishing years before the current e-book rage. And, in 1998, he created Arts & Letters Daily, which the New Yorker called the “first and foremost aggregator” of well-written book reviews and other literary writing available on the Web. The magazine dubbed Dutton “the intellectual’s Matt Drudge,” a reference to the founder of the influential news site Drudge Report…
The diversity appealed to an erudite contrarian like Dutton, who for some years was a member of the Libertarian Party. He loved few things more than a good argument and often would go to great lengths to debunk fraudulent ideas or their purveyors.
“That was his sport,” Doug Dutton said in an interview last week. The motto of Arts & Letters Daily was “Veritas Odit Moras” — Latin for Truth Hates Delay — a tidy summary of the website founder’s approach to life.
A robust exchange of ideas was the daily bread when Dutton was growing up. The second of four children of William and Thelma Dutton, he was born in Los Angeles on Feb. 9, 1944, and grew up in North Hollywood…
On its first day, Arts & Letters Daily attracted about 300 visitors. Now it averages 120,000 views a day — not bad for a website that eschews flashy graphics and carries no outside advertising. It quickly won kudos: The London Observer rated it the world’s top website; Wired magazine called it a “lusciously fat, slobbering intellectual’s site.” In 2005, Time proclaimed Dutton one of the “most influential media personalities in the world.”
His creation became the home page of choice for thousands of academics, Washington policymakers and writers as politically disparate as Norman Podhoretz and Eric Alterman. Harvard University evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker said Dutton was a visionary for recognizing that a website “could be a forum for cutting-edge ideas, not just a way to sell things or entertain the bored.”
It ran aground financially a few times but was quickly rescued, first by Lingua Franca magazine, which bought it in 1999; and, after Lingua Franca went bankrupt, by the Washington-based weekly Chronicle of Higher Education in 2002…