Thursday, February 11, 2010


I do enjoy the many themes Barzun presents in his book, like emancipation, primitivism, and many others.

Barzun defines emancipation as "one of the cultural themes of the era, perhaps the most characteristic of all. And of course it requires more and more limitations in order to prevent my right from infringing yours."

I think the truth of this depends on the definition of "rights." Was it a right to emergency health care in the early 16C? Underlying this seemingly concise definition is a fluid term, "rights", yet I suspect these ideas are the keys to understanding our culture through Barzun's eyes.

For instance, Barzun claims that Primitivism is "a main motive of the Protestant Reformation". After reading David's comments about Johann Tetzel, I would tend to think people were rebelling against a system they created that could allow his kind of parasite to survive (notwithstanding if I could wash away my guilt for $10000.00, I would, though I try in that and other ways).

I'm wondering whether it would be worthwhile to have posts that we link to and update throughout the book our understanding of these terms and their expression in various time frames throughout the course of the book. I hope we all post at least once per chapter. I'm thinking of this as more of a catalog to add depth of understanding and as a point of reference. Note, these are Barzun's terms, so in that sense it is a leap of faith that this is a worthwhile endeavor.

Thoughts on this idea?

No comments:

Post a Comment