Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Times ...

Going way back, the Spartans probably thought they were oh, so modern when they left defenseless infants on wild mountain slopes. So did wealthy Norse mothers who had poor women foster their children, and European aristocrats who employed wet nurses. More recently, as Ann Hulbert chronicles in her book “Raising America: Experts, Parents, and a Century of Advice About Children,” rigid feeding schedules were all the rage in the United States in the 1920s. The next two decades brought an emphasis on discipline. (here)

Indeed, the ancients were surely as interested in being "oh, so modern" as we moderns. This mediocre-bourgeois conversational tone, and a well-rehearsed posture of self-conscious savvy (though not erudition or taste), seems to pop up more and more in the Times pieces that I read. Informality, I generally like; but in these cases it's affected, merely a schtick practiced so much it substitutes for 'authenticity' (becoming the new authenticity and bringing impoverishment in the process). It's aggravating. One can separate the serious from the non-serious by figuring out who speaks without self-awareness solely in terms of status, as well who naturalizes their own trivial concerns for the concerns of all humanity. This was also borne out by the "debate" about bookshelves and displaying books one hasn't read that hit the Interwebs a year or two ago ...

3 comments:

Alex said...

somewhat apropos is Xenophon's comparison of psuedo-Persian (actually an idealized form of Sparta and having little to do with actual Persia) education for liberty versus the Medean / Oriental education for tyranny within the Cyropaedia that I'm reading right now. (Cyrus undergoes both the education for liberty and the education for tyranny and the education for tyranny wins out).

MovieMan0283 said...

ZC, if you're interested...

I am making the rounds to remind everyone about the "Reading the Movies" exercise. I'm going to compile everyone's lists into one master list in a week or two, so jump in! The original post can be found here:

http://thedancingimage.blogspot.com/2009/05/reading-movies.html#links

ZC said...

Alex, I started reading the Cyropaedia a couple weeks back, though it's on the back-burner I think until I finish getting through Livy's early books.

MovieMan, I'll try to do a list soon. I was traveling for the past week ...