Friday, June 15, 2007

Too clever by half

Now look what we've done


Lyndon said...

I'm... not sorry for any part I played.

Hopefully all the referrals didn't crash blogger at any point.

Part of my intention - not quite as well thought-out as I'm about to make it sound - running the waste land against the bible may have been to dramatise the whole collapse of certainties thing which is kind of important to understand if anyone want to understand the culture of this century. Oh sorry, I mean last century.

The way the actual quote predates anderei's and demonstrates that I can copy and paste passages that are in greek and latin may also have played a part.

It's a really interesting topic, though.

But seeing as I'm still inclined to play devils advocate, two thoughts:

I have a hazy impression there were extended periods where people weren't really allowed to be inspired by anything but the bible.

Impressed though I am by the bible I didn't think it's proof of culturedness to have read one book.

Lyndon said...

Okay, having thought better and looked it up I find the actualy quote might predate andrei's, at least in the being-written-down sense.

Somehow being vaguely conemporary makes the whole thing even more piquant.

What have you done to me, Paul? I used to try to conceal my over-education.

Sanctuary said...

The tender yet epic poem I wrote to my girlfriend at the gentle age of 17 got me laid for the first time, so to that goes my vote as the greatest culture treasure of western civilisation.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you should have known that any fundy appraisal of Western civilisation would have the bible is its zenith. It is, after all, the most successful work of fiction in the history of Western society.

It's a bit like those Channel 4 Top 10 lists - the Top 10 of Punk had the Pistols at number one, despite the Clash being contemporaneous, longer lasting, and better in general. You start with your conclusion and work your way back...

Andrei said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrei said...

Well Lyndon,

My initial comment was intended to suggest that conservatives are not uneducated boors and to politely suggest to Paul nobody is perfect

(1) Your quote does indeed predate mine - though not in the form you used it.

I referenced your comment in my post title as I'm sure you know. And being familar with TS Eliot's dreary (in my opinion) poem you will also no why.

(2) As you know "The Waste Land" contains multiple Biblical references and further down the thread "Artemisia Gentileschi’s Judith Beheading Holofernes" was mentioned, another Biblical reference.

Which got me thinking about western cultural treasures. Treasures which according to Paul's initial post conservatives are either unfamiliar with and/or disinterested in.

So a post was born and I laid down a challenge, is there anything that has made a greater contribution to western culture than the Bible?

You don't have to believe it is divinely inspired (I do of course) just consider its cultural impact over the past 1700 years or so and come up with something more significant.

Up to it?

Anonymous said...

Probably been posted here before, but for those who don't buy the talking snake hypothesis:

Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling said...

"As great as Mozart, Bach, Hayden et al are, they do not speak of, nor do they offer, eternal life."


Anonymous said...

You can't expect them to be cultured Paul, when they can't even get their basic history right


Lyndon said...

Andrei -

I may have been confused by trying to relate the question back to Paul's post.

If I might first try to decribe the sense in which I agree - as a work referenced by other work, stolen from by other works and inspiring other works, I sure ain't backing anything against the bible round these parts.

Not least because the Old and New are both full of good stories which were, well, in everyone's face a lot of the time.

But this being the internet I find it necessary to point out I am unlikely to accept any conclusions you might draw from that. Or agree exactly how important that is.

Taking the whole of the arts I might suggest, for content (in the wide sense) sex and for inspiration, money. And I think I do mean that, but I haven't done much work on the thesis.

As far as broader society goes, I feel like what we have today follows at least as much from the greeks (and the world generally, and pragmatic fact). Whether we would be more different, for example, if some major piece of geography was placed differently as compared to the West having a different religion I won't speculate.

While we're at it I start wondering how biblical the church has been through history. For example one is grateful for the preservation of knowledge and the international organistion through the dark ages, but I don't intially see that following from the bible any more than the crusades did.

Mind, I don't think the sermon on the mount is compatible with governing.

So, yeah, it depends.

Lyndon said...

Actually, allowing for time-in-play, Shakespeare's done pretty well, for much the same reasons - full of good stories and characters, kind of derivative, but in a good way...

I didn't read the TBR thread carefully but if you (for our purposes)ignore the arguments about religion it looks like there's some meat there.

stephen said...

I find the insistence on the Bible as the foundation of Western culture perplexing in this context.

Apart from the fact that the Bible is the property of lefty liberals as much as it is righty conservatives, it doesn't follow that being familiar with the Bible makes you cultured. Accepting the claim that the Bible has made the greatest contribution, nonetheless if you are unfamiliar with the other contributions, you are uncultured. It's all very well to point out how Bach would have written nothing without holy inspiration, but the question is, are you familiar with his music?

Anonymous said...

I see Ian Wishart's tract Eve's Bark has fallen right off the non-fiction ten bestsellers' list this past fortnight. That might account for part of his over-the-top reaction to an email from the police telling him to go to the Ombudsman if he thinks demanding a reply within two hours is reasonable. I think Michael Cullen had a point when he said Wishart is a delusionary paranoid who needs help, not attention.