Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Harold Bloom – Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?

I have finished my reading of Bloom’s tome.  As my last post indicated, I disagreed with his view point on many things but I did find many things worth sharing.  Some of the following quotes are thoughts I admire and approve, others are concepts with which I disagree.   Before I get to the quotes themselves I have a vocabulary list to consider.  

When I read books, I circle words I don’t know and look them up later.  In the 304 pages of Bloom’s book, I ended up circling 81 words.  I looked them all up and have listed them below with definitions almost all from Merriam-Webster’s dictionary.  Words from the multitude of quotes included in the text are in italics with the author being quoted in parenthesis after the page number.   I am left to ponder who is most revealed by this, Bloom’s intellect, my ignorance, or something else about both of us.

From Merriam-Webster:

abnegates p21 – deny, renounce, surrender, relinquish

*adagia p176 – the title of an annotated collection of Greek and Latin proverbs during the Renaissance by Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasums – love feast

Aesthetic p203 – of, or relating to, art or beauty; of, relating to, or dealing with aesthetics or the beautiful

agon p42 – conflict, especially: a the dramatic conflict between the chief characters in a literary work

antiphony p81 – responsive alternation between two groups especially of singers

antithetical p228 – directly opposite or opposed; constituting or marked by antithesis; being in direct and unequivocal opposition

aphoristic p 161 aphorism p165 – a concise statement of a principle; a terse formulation of a truth or sentiment

apothegm p176 – a short, pithy and instructive saying or formulation; aphorism

apposition p133 – a grammatical construction in which two unusually adjacent nouns having the same referent stand in the same syntactical relation to the rest of the sentence 9a the poet and Burns is “a biography of the poet Burns”);  the deposition of successive layers upon those already present (as in cell walls)

ascetic p 227 – relating to or having a strict and simple way of living that avoids physical pleasure, practicing strict self-denial as a measure of personal and especially spiritual discipline; austere in appearance, manner, or attitude

assiduity p6 (Hillel) - Diligence, persistent personal attention

bathetic p102 – from bathos – the sudden appearance of a silly ideal or event in a book triteness, sentimentalism

cant p187 – lively, lustily

contemn p177 – to view or treat with contempt; scorn

daimon p50 – demon

demiurge  p54 (Solmsen) – a Platonic subordinate deity who fashions the sensible world in the light of eternal ideas; a Gnostic subordinate deity who is the creator of the material world; one that is an autonomous creative force or decisive power

diachronic p172 – of, relating to, or dealing with phenomena (as lf language or culture) as they occur or change over a period of time

dissimulation p156 – to hide under a false appearance

*elegist p171 – the author of a mournful poem lamenting the dead ; (elegiac p 174 – resembling or characteristic of or appropriate to an elegy; expressing sorrow often for something past)

Equivocal p196 – having two or more possible meanings; not easily understood or explained; a subject to two or more interpretations and usually used to mislead or confuse;  subject to two or more interpretations and usually used to mislead or confuse

enigmatic p154 – full of mystery and difficult to understand

esoteric p289 – only taught to or understood by members of a special group; hard to understand’; limited to a small number of people

excogitation p179 – to think out; devise

exegete p175 – one who practices exegesis (an explanation or critical interpretation of a text)

exotericism p149, exoteric p160 – only taught to or understood by members of a special group; hard to understand; limited to a small number of people; of special, rare, or unusual interest

expurgating p56 – to cleanse of something morally harmful, offensive, or erroneous; to expunge objectionable parts from before publication or presentation

familial p181 – of or relating to a family; tending to occur in more members of a family than expected by chance alone

fecundity p168 – intellectually productive or inventive to a marked degree; fruitful in offspring or vegetation; prolific; producing or able to produce many babies, young animals, or plants

fecund p253 – producing or able to produce many babies, young animals , or plants; fruitful in offspring or vegetation; prolific; intellectually productive or inventive to a marked degree

gnomic p278 – said or written using few words that are difficult to understand; characterized by aphorism; given to the composition of gnomic writhing

gnosticism [gnostic]  p 45, [278] – the thought and practice especially of various cults of late pre-Christian and early Christian centuries distinguished by the conviction that matter is evil and that emancipation come through gnosis (esoteric knowledge of spiritual truth)

gnosis p115 – esoteric (only taught or understood by members of a special group ; hard to understand ) knowledge of spiritual truth held by the ancient Gnostics to be essential to salvation

groggy (groggily adverb) p184 – not able to think or move normally because of being tired, sick, etc., weak and unsteady on the feet or in action

hagridden p268 (Proust) – harass, torment

Hermetism [hermetic] p 121 – closed tightly so that no air can go in or out; of or relating to the mystical and alchemical writings or teaching arising in the first three centuries A. D. and attributed to Hermes Trismegistus; relating to or characterized by occultism or abstruseness

heterodox p53 – not agreeing with established beliefs or standards, contrary, holding unorthodox opinions or doctrines

Historicists [historicists] p118 – a theory, doctrine, or style that emphasizes the importance of history; a theory in which history is seen as a standard of value or as a determinant of events, a style c(as in architecture) characterized by the use of traditional forms and elements

Idols p163 (Bacon) a greatly loved or admired person; a picture or object that is worshipped as a god

Instauration p160 – restoration after decay, lapse, or dilapidation; an act of instituting or establishing something; [Instaurator p166] – one who renews or restores a former condition

Irremediable p271 (Proust) – not able to be repaired or corrected; not remediable; incurable

Kenosis p200 – the relinquishment of divine attributes by Jesus Christ in becoming human

Magus p160 – a member of a hereditary priestly class among the ancient Medes and Persians; (plural – magi as in wise men)

Miscellany p183 – a mixture of different things; separate writing collected in one volume; a collection of writing on various subjects; a mixture of various things

misprision p281 – neglect or wrong performance of official duty; concealment of treason or felony by one who is not a participant in the treason or felony; seditious conduct against the government or the courts

mnemotechnics(sp) p226  (Nietzsche) – of or relating to or involved the practice of aiding the memory

monist p 43 – a view that there is only one kind of ultimate substance; a viewpoint or theory that reduces all phenomena to one principle

mordant p178 – expressing harsh criticism especially in a way that is funny

nihilism p116 –a doctrine that denies any objective ground of truth and especially of moral truths; the belief that traditional morals, ideas, beliefs, etc. have no worth or value, senseless and useless; the belief that a society’s political and social institutions are so bad that they should be destroyed;

obtuse p226 (Nietzsche) stupid or unintelligent; not able to think clearly or to understand what is obvious or simple; mathematics: not ending in a sharp point, measuring between 90 and 180 degrees

*palabars and hechos  p93 – [Spanish for “actions and facts”]

pathos p186 – a quality that causes people to feel sympathy and sadness; an element in experience or in artistic representation evoking pity or compassion; an emotion of sympathetic pity

paucity p137 – smallness of number, fewness, dearth

perturbation p 164 (Bacon) a change in the normal state or regular movement of something; a state of being worried or upset

plangent p160 – having a loud reverberating sound; having an expressive and especially plaintive quality

*Pelasgian  p212 (Emerson) – A member of a people living in the region of the Aegean Sea before the coming of the Greeks

polemic p32 – a strong written or spoken attack against someone else’s opinions, beliefs, practices, etc.

*politiques p156 (Bacon) – [French for involved in politics]

preternatural p81 – very unusual in a way that does not seem natural; existing outside of nature

primordial p234 – existing from the beginning of time; very ancient; first created or developed; existing in or persisting from the beginning; earliest formed in the growth of an individual or organ; primitive

profligacy p209 – the quality of being profligate, (carelessly and foolishly wasting money, materials, ext.; very wasteful

prudential p187 – having or showing careful good judgment; of, relating to, or proceeding from prudence; exercising prudence especially in business matters

pugnaciously [pugnacious] p130 – having a quarrelsome or combative nature

quietist (quietism) p 139 – a system of religious mysticism teaching that perfection and spiritual peace are attained by annihilation of the will and passive absorption in contemplation of God and divine things; passive withdrawn attitude or policy toward th3e world or worldly affairs; a state of calmness or passivity

sciatica p222 (W .E. D. Du Bois) – pain in the lower back, hip, and especially the back of the thigh that is caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve

solipsism p87 – a theory holding that the self can know nothing but its own modifications and that the self is the only existent thing; extreme egocentrism

sublimity (sublime) p147 – lofty, grand, or exalted in thought, expression, or manner; of outstanding spiritual, intellectual, or moral worth

synecdoche p172 – a figure of speech by which a part is put for the whole (as fifty sail for fifty ships0, the whole for a part (as society of high society), the species for the genus (as cutthroat for assassin), the genus for the species (as a creature for a man), or the name of the material for the thing made 9 as boards for stage)

teleological p255 – exhibiting or relating to design or purpose especially in nature

tendentious p157 – strongly favoring a particular point of view in a way that may cause argument; expressing a strong opinion; marked by a tendency in favor of a particular point of view

theomorphic p123 – having the divine aspect

topos p 253 – a traditional or conventional literary or rhetorical theme or topic

tropes p139 – a word or phrase, or image used in a new and different way in order to create an artistic effect; a word or expression used in a figurative sense; figure of speech; a common or overused theme or device; cliché

unseam p123 – to open the seams of

vicissitudes p 244 – the quality or state of being changeable; mutability’ natural change or mutation visible in nature or in human affairs; a favorable or unfavorable event or situation that occurs by chance; a difficulty or hardship attendant on a way of life; alternating change; succession

vitalism p200 – a doctrine that the functions of a living organism are due to a vital principle distinct from physicochemical forces; a doctrine that the processes of life are not explicable by the laws of physics and chemistry alone and that life is some part self-determining

wen p207 (Montaigne) – an abnormal growth or a cyst protruding from a surface especially of the skin

*Note: Not from Merriam-Webster

I like some of the following quotes very much – agree with them and find them supportive of my own thoughts.  Others I disagree with very much and quote them as examples of the modern intellectualism which I believe is a threat to our minds and our humanity.  I will append comments after some; which I will enclose in brackets.  Each quote has a title as a sort of introduction in my words.  These introductions are bolded. Quotes that are from other authors, cited by Bloom, will be in italics and followed by the name of the original author.  

All quotes are from the 2004 edition published by the Penguin Group in New York.

1. Who was the writer of the Bible?  “We know that the Five Books of Moses were not composed by Moses, and the Hebrews presumably knew this also.” pp. 11-12

2. Bloom’s need to Place a woman in the “Authors List”.  “I have some doubts as to the nation and creed of the wisdom writer who composed Job, just as I hold to my prior surmise that the J writer of the Hebrew Bible might well have been a Hittite woman.” p. 12 [I hold that this is Bloom’s 21st century political correctness run amuck.]

3. The Sources of Melville’s Moby – Dick. “Behemoth and Leviathan plainly represent the sanctified tyranny of nature over men. “ p. 15 [I believe this is represented in Moby-Dick, which I read as man’s necessary but futile struggle to master nature, his tragic duty which he can neither escape or accomplish.] 

3. The Theme of the Book. “But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?”

Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living.” Job 28 p. 20

4. Nothing New Under the Son.  The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”  Ecclesiastes 1 pp. 24-25

5. On Modern Education.  “At our dreadful moment in education, the Iliad and the Odyssey are not as universally taught as in my youth, but they remain far more widely studied than are the Symposium and the Republic. p. 37

6. The Influence of Ancient Ideas.   “And yet our cognition—science and technology, as well as philosophy—is Greek, as is our aesthetic, though not altogether.  Religion and morality, despite the long tradition of Christian Platonism, will remain Hebraic-Christian-Islamic, though perhaps increasingly Platonized.” pp. 50-51 [First, I do not believe that human minds are divided as Bloom indicates, nor that our thoughts or our morality are generated by one geographic mind set or another.  I also see very little that is Hebraic, Christian, or Islamic in enlightened thought; thank God. ]

7. The Lover of Truth Can Never Possess It – We Only Know We Cannot Know. “. . . the philosopher knows that he cannot reach his model and will never be entirely that which he desires.” p. 59 (Hadot)

8. The Power of Homer’s Poetry. “The poems of Homer and his contemporaries were the delight of infant Greece; they were the elements of that social system which is the column upon which all succeeding civilization has repose.  Homer embodied the ideal perfection of his age in human character; nor can we doubt that those who read his verses were awakened to an ambition of becoming like to Achilles, Hector, and Ulysses: the truth and beauty of friendship, patriotism, and persevering devotion to an object, were unveiled to their depths in these immortal creations: the sentiments of the auditors must have been refined and enlarged by a sympathy with such great and lovely impersonations, until from admiring they imitated, and from imitation they identified themselves with the objects of their admiration. “  p. 63 (Shelly)

9. On Memorizing (the Iliad). “That Homer was memorized and so became the major source of later Greek popular thinking is indisputable, but the author of the Iliad was rather more than an encyclopedist.” p. 65 

10. On Memorizing (Poetry).  “After half a century of teaching poetry, I have come to believe that I must urge my better students to possess great poems by memory.  Choose a poem that finds you, as Coleridge says, and read it deeply and often, out loud to yourself and to others.  Internalizing the poems of Shakespeare, Milton, Whitman will teach you to think more comprehensively than Plato can.”  p. 66 [Why must we choose?  Isn’t there equal value in the “poetry” of Plato as in others one might choose?]

11. The New Testament Is Greek in Tenor.  “Simon Weil, who loved both the Iliad and the Gospels, rather oddly associated them, as though Jesus had been a Greek and not a Jew:  The Gospels are the last marvelous expression of the Greek genius, as the Iliad is the first . . .” p. 70 [This is not odd at all.  The writers of the New Testament wrote in Greek Letters their Hellenized thoughts.]

12. On Melville’s Ahab and Moby-Dick.  “Herman Melville blended Don Quixote and Hamlet in Captain Ahab (with a touch of Milton’s Satan added for seasoning).   Ahab desires to avenge himself upon the White Whale, while Satan would destroy God, if only he could.”  p. 84 [I don’t think Bloom understands Ahab or tragic heroes in general.  The necessary battle of man against nature is ill compared to Satan’s quest for Glory; even though both are fated to rail against the unassailable.]

13. On the Truth, from Don Quixote.  “What I can tell your grace is that it deals with truths, and they are truths so appealing and elegant that no lies can equal them.”  P.95 (Cervantes)

14. On Reading.  “We read, I think, to repair our solitude, though pragmatically the better we read, the more solitary we become.  I cannot regard reading as a vice, but then also it is not a virtue.  Thinking in Hegel is one thing; in Goethe, it is quite another.  Hegel is not a wisdom writer; Goethe is.  The deepest motive for reading has to be the quest for wisdom.” p. 107 [I don’t get his sentence:  “I cannot regard reading as a vice, but then also it is not a virtue.”  I think he is once more trying to maintain his relativist credentials.  Surely there are writers whose works are a waste of time – their short-comings do not convict all reading.]

15. On Our First Breath.  . . . we came crying hither: Thou know’st the first time we smell the air We wawl and cry.” P. 113 (Book of Job)

“When we are born, we cry that we are come To this great stage of fools.”  P. 113 (Shakespeare)

16. On Marxist Abuse of Nihilists (Destroyers). Hegelians of the Left—Marx and the Russians culminating in Lenin and Trotsky—carried nihilism into terrorism and class revolution; but Schopenhauer returned to Fichte’s Romantic idealism, and thus begat the Dionysiac Nietzsche, who is now claimed by antinihilists and nihilists alike.” p. 117

17. On Who’s the Best, According to Bloom. The personal essay is Montaigne’s, as the drama is Shakespeare’s, the epic is Homer’s, and the novel forever Cervantes’s. p. 127

18. Montaigne on How Silly It Would Be to Be Judged for Eternity on This Life. “It would be an injustice to have cut short its [man’s life’s] resources and powers; to have disarmed it, and to pass judgment and a sentence of infinity and perpetual duration upon it, for the time of its captivity and imprisonment, its weakness and illness, the time when it was forced and constrained; and to stop at the consideration of so short a time, perhaps one or two hours, or at worst a century, which is no more in proportion to infinity than an instant; in order, from this moment of interval, to decide and dispose definitively of its whole existence.  It would be an inequitable disproportion to receive eternal compensation in consequence of so short a life.”  p. 140 (Montaigne)

19. Montaigne on Socrates #1. “It happened fortunately that the man most worthy to be known and to be presented to the world as an example should be the one of whom we have the most certain knowledge.  We have light on him from the most clear-sighted men who ever lived; the witnesses we have of him are wonderful in fidelity and competence.” pp. 143-144 (Montaigne)

20. Montaigne on Socrates #2.  “By these vulgar and natural motives, by these ordinary and common ideas, without excitement or fuss, he [Socrates] constructed not only the best regulated but the loftiest and most vigorous beliefs, actions, and morals that ever were.  It is he who brought human wisdom back down from heaven, where she was wasting her time, and restored her to man, with whom lies her most proper and laborious and useful business.  See him plead before his judges, see by what reasonings  he rouses his courage in the hazards of war, what arguments fortify his patience against calumny, tyranny, death, and his wife’s bad temper.  There is nothing borrowed from art and the sciences; even the simplest can recognize in him their means and their strength; it is impossible to go back further and lower.  He did a great favor to human nature by showing how much it can do by itself.” p. 144 (Montaigne)

21. Montaigne on Living. There is nothing so beautiful and legitimate as to play the man well and properl,y no knowledge so hard to acquire as the knowledge of how to live life well and naturally; and the most barbarous of our maladies is to despise our being.”  P. 146 (Montaigne)

22. Horace on Obedience to the Gods. “Since you obey the gods, you rule the world.”  p. 148 (Horace)

23. Horace on the Good Life.   “Grant me but health, Latona’s son, And to enjoy the wealth I’ve won, And honored age, with mind entire And not unsolaced by the lyre.”  p. 149 (Horace)

24. Bacon On the Inability of Man’s Senses or Mind to Measure the Universe; An Indictment of Modern “Science".  “For it is a false assertion that the sense of man is the measure of things.  On the contrary, all perceptions as well of the sense as of the mind are according to the measure of the individual and not according to the measure of the universe.  And the human understanding is like a false mirror; which, receiving rays irregularly, distorts and discolors the nature of things by mingling its own nature with it.” p. 163 (Bacon)

25. Bacon On the Danger of Words and the Power of Words.  “And therefore the ill and unfit choice of words wonderfully obstructs the understanding.  Nor do the definitions or explanations wherewith in some things learned men are wont to guard and defend themselves, by any means set the matter right.  But words plainly force and overrule the understanding, and throw all into confusion, and lead men away into numberless empty controversies and idle fancies.”   P. 164

26. Bacon On the Idols of the Theater – [A Commentary on Global Warming’s Pseudo “Science”].  These I call the Theatre because in my judgment all the received systems are but so many stage plays, representing worlds of their own creation after an unreal and scenic fashion.  Nor is it only of the systems now in vogue, or only of the ancient sects and philosophies, that I speak; for many more plays of the same kind may yet be composed and in like artificial manner set forth, seeing that errors the most widely different have nevertheless causes for the most part alike.  Neither again do I mean this only of entire systems, but also of many principles and axioms in science, which by tradition, credulity, and negligence have come to be received.” pp. 164-165 (Bacon)

27. On the Value of Writing by Samuel Johnson.  The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”  p. 187 (Johnson)

28. Modern Universities Do Not Require Reading.  “And yet Johnson is a great teacher, particularly at a time when the “common reader,” who he exalted, is beginning to vanish, and when the mediaversity barely teaches most students to read better books, or to read them more closely.”  p. 188 

29. Emerson’s Call for Relativism.   “I dare attempt to lay out my own road That which myself delights in shall be Good That which I do not want, --indifferent, That which I hate is Bad.  That’s flat Henceforth, please God, Forever I forego The yoke of men’s opinions.”   p. 214 (Emerson)

30. Can America Be the New Rome?  “[On Emerson’s writing on freedom.] Huge as the journals are, they need to be read complete, because Emerson’s mind has become the mind of America.  I am aware that this is not always a good thing, now that a self-reliant United States bids to become a twenty-first-century version of the Roman Empire.”  P. 218 [I rejoice at the thought that the U. S. might be the new Roman Empire.  The world is better for Rome and will forever be better thanks to the United States of America.]

31. Emerson on Thought and Freedom.  “Intellect annuls Fate.  So far as a man thinks, he is free.” p. 221 (Emerson)

32. A Call for Teachers.  How can one create a memory for the human animal?  How can on impress something upon this partly obtuse, partly flighty mind, attuned only to the passing moment, in such a way that it will stay there?”  p. 226 (Nietzsche)

33. On the Ancient Religion – Human Sacrifice, the Death of the Sacred King.  “Man could never do without blood, torture, and sacrifices when he felt the need to create a memory for himself; the most dreadful sacrifices and pledges (sacrifices of the first-born among them), the most repulsive mutilations (castration, for example), the cruelest rites of all the religious cults (and all religions are at the deepest level systems of cruelties)—all this has its origin in the instinct that realized that pain is the most powerful aid to mnemonics.”  P. 227 (Nietzsche)

34. On Freud – His Importance Up, Psychoanalysis Down.  “We live more than ever in the Age of Freud, despite the relative decline that psychoanalysis has begun to suffer as a public institution and as a medical specialty.  Freud’s universal and comprehensive theory of the mind probably will outlive the psychoanalytical therapy, and seems already to have placed him with Plato and Montaigne and Shakespeare rather than with the scientists he overtly aspired to emulate.     

This is not to suggest that Freud was primarily a philosopher or a poet, but rather that his influence has been analogous to that of Plato, Montaigne, Shakespeare: inescapable, immense, almost incalculable.  In some sense, we are all Freudians, whether we want to b or not.”  P. 238 [BUNK!!!!!]

35. The Truth about Psychoanalytical Therapy.  “His [Freud’s] Viennese contemporary the satirist Karl Kraus bitterly observed that psychoanalysis itself was the mental illness or spiritual disease of which it purported to be the cure.  This remains, I [Bloom]  think, the most destructive remark that Freud ever has provoked, because it centers on what is most problematic in his writing and in his therapy, the intimately related ideas of authority and transference.” p.239  [Down with Freud; his pronouncements are tottering and demonstrated ridicules.  Kraus’ comment is powerful because it is true.]

36. On Leviathan – Think Moby-Dick.  “Leviathan in the Book of Job is God’s king over all the children of pride, and yet God answers Job’s questions as to why evil afflicts the virtuous only with a series of rhetorical questions that affirm the sanctified tyranny of nature over all of us.  We can make no covenant with Leviathan, who at last will be death, our death.”  P. 247 [Man, Ahab, fights even against death.  It is the nature of man – and his destiny.]

37. On the Loss of Learning.   “Cultural guilt has become far more conscious among us than it tended to be in Freud’s Vienna, indeed so much so that our higher learning of a humanist kind is ebbing away, almost as a kind of sacrifice for what we take to be our implication in societal tyrannies and exploitations.”  p. 249      

38. On Love and Jealousy.  “Jealousy dies with love, but only with respect to the former beloved.”  p. 261 [Perhaps, but the hate that survives the death of love is often endless and terrible to behold.]

39. Freud’s Voodoo Reveled in His Own Words.  “The female sex develops an Oedipus-complex, too, a super-ego and a latency period.  May one ascribe to it also a phallic organization and a castration complex?  The answer is in the affirmative, but it cannot be the same as in the boy.  The feministic demand for equal rights between the sexes does not carry far here; the morphological difference must express itself in differences in the development of the mind.  “Anatomy is Destiny,” to vary a saying of Napoleon’s [Freud died too soon to quote Hitler.]. The little girl’s clitoris behaves at first just like a penis, but by comparing herself with a boy play-fellow the child perceives that she has “come off short,” and takes this fact as ill-treatment and as a reason for feeling inferior.  For a time she still consoles herself with the expectation that later, when she grows up, she will acquire just as big an appendage as a boy.  Here the woman’s “masculine complex: branches off.  The female child does not understand her actual loss as a sex characteristic, but explains it by assuming that at some earlier date she had possessed a member which was just as big and which had later been lost by castration.  She does not seem to extend this conclusion about herself to other grown women, but in complete accordance with the phallic phase she ascribes to them large and complete, that is, male, genitalia.  The result is an essential difference between her and the boy, namely, that she accepts castration as an established fact, an operational already performed, whereas the boy dreads the possibility of its being performed.  pp. 272-273

40. On Religious War.  “The twenty-first century may be dominated by religious war between some elements in Islam and an emerging alliance of Hindus, Jews, and Christians.”  p. 292 [There may be such an alliance, but we should not leave out the forces of China – who should also fear Islamic fanaticism.  More importantly, it will not be arms but the power of reason, in-other-words, the power of human thought that will make the most effective defense against fanatic superstition.]

41. Rome and the United States; the United States as Rome.  “Whether the United States in its role as the new Roman Empire will enforce a Roman peace, or fall eventually as Rome fell, its potential history and defense is prefigured in Augustine’s City of God.”  p. 293

42. On the Importance of Reading.  “We think because we learn to remember our reading the best that can be read—for Augustine the Bible and Vergil, Cicero and the Neoplatonists, to which we have added for ourselves Plato, Dante, Cervantes, and Shakespeare, with Joyce and Proust in this century just past [Dump Joyce and Proust – I would add Melville and Tolkien.]  But always we remain the progeny of Augustine, who first told us that the book alone could nourish thought, memory, and their intricate interplay in the life of the mind.  Reading alone will not save us or make us wise, but without it we will lapse into the death-in-life of the dumbing down in which American now leads the world, as in all other matters.  pp. 298-299

43. On Wisdom and Truth – Bloom’s Conclusion.   “Truth, according to the poet William Butler Yeats, could not be known but could be embodied. Of wisdom, I personally would affirm the reverse:  We cannot embody it, yet we can be taught how to know wisdom, whether or not it can be identified with the Truth that might make us free.”  p. 304  [What?]


Scott Hinrichs said...

Bloom is obviously well read and can boast a keen intellect. But his judgment of Freud inhabiting the same realms as Plato, Montaigne and Shakespeare is faulty at best and hubristic at worst. Perhaps additional passage of time will render greater clarity on this point. Maybe one of Bloom's intellectual heirs three centuries from now might have sufficient perspective to more aptly judge this matter.

Lysis said...


Thank you for posting. I agree with you on Freud. That he is still held up is proof that those who teach him have not read him. It is the endless problem in university classes. Professors teaching what they were taught to students who will repeat it as if they knew something about it.

I am interested to see what will become of Proust. No, I've never heard of him either.

D. Conner