Almost finished, some more thoughts:
- I find Wolfe's break with mainstream conservatism very interesting, partly because I both don't share this with him and I still agree with his main points about art and culture. I don't have the personal experiences that Wolfe has with the guys over at National Review
, but I grew up with William F. Buckley as a hero reading every single book of his that I could get my hands on. Buckley regularly refused to take extreme positions in politics, economics and religion and it was part of his moderation/humanism that attracted me to his thought. At the same time, while I was never privileged to know him in person, I share Wolfe's experience of being influenced by Russell Kirk's books and thoughts as well. There is a classical tradition of Christian humanistic thought to be proud of and to constantly learn more from. Sir Thomas More & Desiderius Erasmus are great examples of this, as I believe Thomas Aquinas, Charles de Montesquieu, John Locke, Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, Alexander Hamilton, Frederic Bastiat, Thomas Carlyle, Alexis de Tocequeville, John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, C.S. Lewis, Randall Jarrell and Buckley all are, among others, also.
- As I understand it, the criticism of conservative thought here is that it judges and excludes. I haven't been quite convinced that judgment and/or exclusion are bad things.
- The chapter on the art of Fred Folsom is probably the most interesting chapter discussing the work of a painter that I have ever read.
- It is high time I read some Andrew Hudgins, Geoffrey Hill and other modern poetry.
- Wolfe's thoughts on the culture wars are exactly the ideas that led me to Arts and Faith
in the first place. I'm tired of the Christian use of art for propaganda/proselytizing purposes. And there are still only a minority of voices out there even trying to explain the damage that this causes. It's going to take me more time to compare Wolfe's thoughts with those of Roger Scruton whose works I've also been recently reading my way through. But both seem to advance the idea of a work of art being inherently a good or bad thing, in and of itself. Therefore, we ought to appreciate a work of art for it's own sake - not for it's utilitarian use or the position that it takes in politics or religion. And therefore, even a bad/sinful/imperfect artist can make
a work of art that is, in and of itself, something good.
- Looks like I also need to get John W. O'Malley's book on the four cultures. Out of (1) the prophetic/theological, (2) the rational/critical, (3) the literary/rhetorical, and (4) the visual/performing, I'm probably most engaged in (2) and (3) rather than (3) and (4) like Wolfe. All four ought to balance each other out within an overall civilized culture - but this is an idea that has never even occurred me before, let alone most people.
- Art and Scholasticism
by Jacques Maritain has been sitting silently on my bookshelf, waiting its turn, for a couple years now. After reading Wolfe, it has started calling out to me to be read now, not later.
- Another note on the culture wars, I'm still not sure why ideology has turned into such a pejorative term. So far in the book, I have not seen quite how an ideology is any different from a philosophy or worldview. All three are all one to me. Is that that ideology tends to polarize? So does philosophy. What exactly is negative use of the word getting at?
this seems to be, according to Wolfe, a fault of those who insist that our culture is on the rocks, headed toward destruction - saying things like how there is no good music, movies, painting, etc. anymore. I understand the statement that every different generation has its failures and successes, and I also understand how crying wolf all the time doesn't help with anything. At the same time, hasn't there got to be a line we draw somewhere? Yes, there are art works excellent and praiseworthy in every generation. But, it is perfectly possible for one generation to be more immoral, vastly less educated, or more philosophically in error than an entirely different generation ... isn't it? I'm still also trying to wrestle with the difference between the traditional idea of the uneducated and the modern version of younger people who are highly skilled and educated only in things like using mass-media social-networking for their own entertainment. There is a big difference between an uneducated Charles Dickens rogue and a "uneducated" hipster who can't use rudimentary English grammar but can still send texts on his cell phone 50 times a day. Doom-saying isn't useful, but I'm still trying to find the balance of how to explain why and how something like watching television for an unreasonable amount of time each day is going to screw with the state of your soul.
- Every single participant at A&F needs to read this book.
Edited by Persiflage, 09 July 2011 - 04:10 PM.