Decadent culture, self-esteeming selves, sloppy minds
Michael Walsh writes at PJ Media:
It’s axiomatic today that “mainstream” journalists are corrupt tools of the liberal ascendancy, ethical roundheels who finally found Mr. Dreamboat in Barack Hussein Obama and have spent the years since 2008 lying on their backs and moaning. And that’s partly true.No, Mr. Walsh, if a statement is axiomatic, it is simply true, not partly true. For example, a proper use of “axiomatic” is: “It is axiomatic that the instinct for self-preservation is universal throughout the animal kingdom.”
I don’t think that if Walsh had written this article thirty years ago when he got his first job as a reporter he would have made such a gross error.
Conservatives speak of cultural decline. But one of the worst aspects of such decline is never spoken of: the laziness, lack of logical rigor, and just plain sloppiness of our intellectual and writing classes. From time to time I write politely to journalists and professors (if I can find their e-mail address) to point out factual or grammatical errors in their articles, and, while some have thanked me for the correction, several of them have cavalierly brushed off my point and said that it did not matter. They made it shockingly plain that they don’t care about standards. It seems a fairly common feeling among the mainstream intellectual classes today, including conservatives, is that they themselves are just great and can do anything they want.
Walsh was named chief classical music critic of the San Francisco Examiner in November 1977, where in 1980 he won an ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for music criticism. He became music critic of Time magazine in the spring of 1981, where his cover story subjects included James Levine, Vladimir Horowitz and Andrew Lloyd Webber.He’s written seven nonfiction books, mainly on classical music, and several novels and thrillers.
I am acutely aware of the fact that I all too frequently use imperfect grammar. I was educated in the 1980s and 1990s, when liberal baby-boomer “theorists” were first starting to exact their toll upon the educational system. As I recall, at that time, it was a mark of enlightenment amongst educational “theorists” to dismiss the importance of things such as correct grammar. I am now trying to perform some remedial education upon myself as to how the English language ought to be used. That this is the case is an outrage; I have a PhD, yet I know that I have gotten as far as I have without having fully mastered the English language, and this is because my teachers decided that it wasn’t important to teach me grammar. And I seriously think that I am one of the better cases with respect to academics in my generation.LA replies:
In addition to having a good education in grammar and writing, which I had in public schools and in college as an English major, one of the best ways to learn good grammar, good style, and lucid expression is to read deeply and be affected by authors who have those qualities. My own style, the way I form a sentence, has been influenced by authors I read in my teens and twenties. For example, the way I put phrases together in a sentence borrows from the distinctive, rather formal, and hyper lucid and exact style of P.D. Ouspensky’s In Search of the Miraculous, which I first read at age 21. My sentences are also consciously influenced by W.B. Yeats’s poetry, which I first read and loved as a college sophomore, the distinctive way he constructs phrases.Hannon writes:
The fact that you uphold excellent standards of writing is an important element in the political argumentation at VFR. If an educated person does not take writing seriously, right down to spelling errors, why should I take him seriously in his philosophy or politics? [LA replies: I agree.] Sloppy habits, sloppy thinking. My only quibble is that you sometimes use extra commas, as here:Sam replies to LA:
This is an interesting comment, because my early intellectual formation was heavily influenced by the worst of the worst. It was most heavily influenced, first, by existentialists like Sartre and Camus, and then by beatniks like Kerouac and Burroughs and Ginsburg. This, along with postmodern philosophers like Foucault and Derrida. These are the people my liberal baby-boomer professors told me to read and to emulate. And so I assumed that this mode of “thinking” was normative and expressed some kind of liberating catharsis.Joe S. writes:
An “axiomatic” statement need not be true, or even partially true. If it is used as a basis for reasoning then it is an axiom, but some people have incorrect axioms. I read Walsh to be saying that it is axiomatic FOR CONSERVATIVES that journalists are corrupt tools, and that he, unlike them, regards that statement to be only partially true. He happens to be wrong both about the truth value of the statement (it is completely true) and its axiomatic status among conservatives (we have more than enough evidence for it so it doesn’t need to be assumed asLA replies:
It simply stands out like a sore thumb for him to say that something is “axiomatic,” and then say it is “partly true.” That is poor writing.Joe S. writes:
He should have said “axiomatic for conservatives” rather than “axiomatic,” and I agree that his writing was poor, I am just saying that I think I know what he meant.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 02, 2013 01:37 PM | Send