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Friday, March 04, 2005

Revisiting Lewis

Sometimes childhood memories ought to be refreshed... The post I made earlier wherein I did a riff on C.S. Lewis' "Men Without Chests" (which means both more and less than the meme Hanson cited), spurred me to take my lunch time and reread the essay. *whew!* Lewis really lays the barbarism of our age bare! This brief clip illustrates but one (perhaps close on to central) problem with so-called "public education" in these ever more and more homogenized States:
"St Augustine defines virtue as ordo amoris, the ordinate condition of the affections in which every object is accorded that kind of degree of love which is appropriate to it. Aristotle says that the aim of education is to make the pupil like and dislike what he ought. When the age for reflective thought comes, the pupil who has been thus trained in 'ordinate affections' or 'just sentiments' will easily find the first principles in Ethics; but to the corrupt man they will never be visible at all and he can make no progress in that science. Plato before him had said the same. The little human animal will not at first have the right responses. It must be trained to feel pleasure, liking, disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likeable, disgusting and hateful In the Republic, the well-nurtured youth is one 'who would see most clearly whatever was amiss in ill-made works of man or ill-grown works of nature, and with a just distaste would blame and hate the ugly even from his earliest years and would give delighted praise to beauty, receiving it into his soul and being nourished by it, so that he becomes a man of gentle heart."
Indeed. The cultural and moral and ethical wasteland that is our popular culture owes much of itself to the destruction of a sense (and appreciation) of beauty and finding pleasure in good things that "prison for kids" (AKA "public schools") seems bent on doing at every turn. It seems as though those who design, fund and run our "prisons for kids" do indeed intend that the end product be the "trousered ape[s]" and "urban blockhead[s]" Lewis decries. It must be so, because despite more and more money, despite ever louder railing against the methods and procedures that continually turn out more and more of this debased product, the so-called education establishment is determined to continue to do more of the same. For more money, of course. Thus is one foundation stone laid in the war to destroy Western Civilization: coarsen the youth, bend them to depravity so that they cannot even see things of real value as having value. Enslave them to the accretion of stuff as the only "true" value—regardless of that stuff's worth: junk CDs filled with non-music; clothing that is "old" and "worthless" as soon as some trousered ape on MTV wears something less attractive and more worthless, but "new"; bigger house (to put more stuff in?); better car (more "bling"—another worthless criterion), etc. The new materialism: valued junk. And where is Beauty, Honor, Justice, Love (no, not those animal slaverings pop culture misrepresents as "love")? Ahhh! That's all relative... I found The Abolition of Man, which includes "Men Without Chests"* essay and others, online here. I strongly recommend reading (or re-reading) it. Much of his writing therein is eerily prophetic. (BTW, "Men Without Chests" includes as essential the idea: men without hearts... For a heart that has only the shallow draft of modern dulled sensibilities is no heart at all and provides nothing for the chest to hold or protect... What use a chest in that case, anyway, eh?)