He took Horace with him on the march and read up the questions of Pagan and Christian theology in his tent. Sooner or later, the great men turn out to be all alike. They never stop working. They never lose a minute. It is very depressing.- “Gibbon and the Home Guard”
Thursday, August 31, 2017
V. S. Pritchett on Edward Gibbon's reading habits during his military service:
Posted by Andy Nicastro at 6:00 AM
Thursday, August 24, 2017
...in a democracy, every ordinary citizen effectively is a king - but a king in a constitutional democracy, a king who only formally decides, whose function is to sign measures proposed by an executive administration. This is why the problem of democratic rituals is homologous to the big problem of constitutional democracy: how to protect the dignity of the king? How to maintain the appearance that the king effectively decides, when we all know this is not true? What we call a “crisis of democracy” does not occur when people stop believing in their own power but, on the contrary, when they stop trusting the elites, those who are supposed to know for them and provide the guidelines, when they experience anxiety signaling that “the (true) throne is empty”, that the decision is now really theirs.
Posted by Andy Nicastro at 7:07 AM
Thursday, August 17, 2017
Thursday, August 10, 2017
In our final history lesson of the year, Old Joe Hunt, who had guided his lethargic pupils through Tudors and Stuarts, Victorians and Edwardians, the Rise of Empire and its Subsequent Decline, invited us to look back over all those centuries and attempt to draw conclusions.- Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending
"We could start, perhaps, with the seemingly simple question, What is History? Any thoughts, Webster?"
"History is the lies of the victors," I replied, a little too quickly.
"Yes, I was rather afraid you'd say that. Well, as long as you remember that it is also the self-delusions of the defeated."
Posted by Andy Nicastro at 7:30 AM
Thursday, August 03, 2017
From a George Bernard Shaw lecture to the Fabian Society on November 26, 1931:
In America there was something that was called the Seattle community. The Seattle community suggests to you a lot of really 100% Americans. There is something in the name Seattle that is 100% American. I think you will acknowledge that.
Posted by Andy Nicastro at 7:00 AM