Posted by Peter Lawler
Here’s MY message to the GREAT BOOKS people about great books.
We’ve forgotten how to think about whole human persons; we’ve forgotten how to think about the purposes or point of being human.
Do you meet people who truly believe that? I know people who proclaim it, but do not ever really live it. Being human, they bump into their old-fashioned humanity all the time. I do not know that it is ironic, but it is certainly funny.
My friend's daughter, attending Evergreen College and as loonily embracing of that college's looney ideals as anyone could be, is in love. She wishes to marry. Not only to marry, but to have a wedding. Non-traditional, of course, though in the impossibility of making a coherent ceremony out of no ceremony, or an anti-ceremony, they will actually (after much wrangling and wasting of creative thought) have a small family ceremony and take Dad's money (which she deplores as capitalist manure, except as it nourishes herself) and have a grand honeymoon in Cuba and then come back and buy a house with what is left. I predict that in twenty years the only remnant of her current political thought might be her anti-vivisectionism, as she has loved animals since she was a child. That part is of her nature.
My most eloquently postmodern friend who has loathed materialism, falls to earth weighed down by his palate and his natural inclination to material and professional success. He loves the best wines and good food and the recently completed renovation of his family kitchen cost as much as my house does on today's market. I look forward to cooking a grand dinner with his wife in that kitchen this weekend. As I simmer the demi-glace, he will tell me how vile GWB is and how laissez-faire capitalism is the ruin of working class guys like him. He will tell me that things are getting worse and worse, while I have only seen his life become better and better.
Which is, I think, to say, I like what you wrote there. It's an explanation that helps me. Conservatism is like gravity. Even the silliest are always pulled back to it, inevitably, when weary of the effort to "free their thought". (Which is an idea that makes me laugh.) They think they are merely tethered by tradition and can break free, like balloons. It is no string, but natural force which brings them back; earthy, normal, human things, for which we can thank God. Or for which I thank God, anyway.
Incidentally, I love that series, which I used to teach my children as they would tolerate it. (Though the book of Aristotle's work could have been better. Actually, I would quibble with some of the other selections, too.) I am looking to unload my bookshelves of the 1986 encyclopedia with which those came to us attached as a "free gift" with purchase. Those books have proved the real treasure in the buy, and I can't imagine my shelves without them.
The confusion here is in thinking that 'postmodernism' completely denies that humans are tissues of necessity. That is not the case. And Lawler's confusions are borne of his having been in too mnay academic catfights against various 'isms.' His own premises indicate it. Progressives believe in grand historical narratives, like that of Marx. But 'postmodernism' rejects such narratives. It thus follows that postmodernism 'rightly understood' has little to do with the dinosaur Marx Lawler still sees behind these leftist academic movements.
Stertinius, please, will you explain "postmodernism" for me, if Professor Lawler's explanation is off. "In a multitude of counsel, there is wisdom." Today I know I don't know anything. I might forget that, tomorrow. Please, inform me today while I am open to new ideas to help my understanding.
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