Thursday, February 19, 2009

Quotation of the day

Criticism as I understand it differs entirely from attack or complaint. Its difference from complaint is especially important here, for I am persuaded that complaints against the machinations of culture today have become as poisonous as the things complained of. This is not surprising. Resentment and indignation are feelings dangerous to the possessor and to be sparingly used. They give comfort too cheaply; they rot judgment, and by encouraging passivity they come to require that evil to continue for the sake of the grievance to be enjoyed.

Criticism, on the contrary, aims at action. True, not all objects can be acted on at once, and many will not be reshaped according to desire; but thought is plastic and within our control, and thought is a form of action. To come to see, in the light of criticism, a situation as different from what it seemed to be, is to have accomplished an important act. The contemporary world, cluttered with leagues and lobbies and overawed by the zero-weighted look of large numbers, has forgotten that to redirect fundamental opinion — including one's own — is also to do something. It can give solace or mastery, or at the very least replace a plaintive passivity with a stoic impassivity.

— Jacques Barzun, Science: The Glorious Entertainment, 1964

1 comment:

  1. Great quote - especially given my post on the paradox of tolerance from last week.

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