Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Temple of Intellect

Re-reading Barzun's Temple of Intellect, which the college library at Texarkana still has (amazingly) after the A&M move. It is astounding what good books many public libraries still possess, and one wonders "How much longer?". In any event, Barzun begins his thesis by showing how (using a minimum of evidence and a maximum of "rhetoric" and logic) Art, Science, & Philanthrophy have made themselves rebels and opponents of the Intellect, whose un-emotional claims are considered in bad taste (at best) in an era of massed democracy with its attendant panoply of technological goods and services, and its apparatus of public service bureaucracy. Barzun is right, of course, but he is refreshingly brilliant and powerful in a rather counter-intuitive and unusual diagnosis, one of the kinds which immediately shock you and prove themselves right at the same time. Why didn't I think of this? Because Barzun is using his intellect, and the rest of his aren't. Here is another writer with a penchant for doing just that, & an ability to see into the belly of the beast we dwell upon.

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