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Thoughts on Jacques Barzun - From Dawn to Decadence.

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posted on Jan, 19 2019 @ 11:06 AM
Although in reference to Europe in the 15th century, this could well be said about South Africa in 2019:

When people accept futility and the absurd as normal, the culture is decadent. The term is not a slur; it is a technical label. A decadent culture offers opportunities chiefly to the satirist, and the turn of the 15C had a good many ...

(Quoted from Jacques Barzun's From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 To the present. 500 Years of Western cultural life. HarperCollins Publishers: 2001, page 11.)

On Jacques Barzun and this book (which was published when Barzun was 93 - he died aged 104 in 2012):

Darn, I guess he beat the current constantly outraged Leftist lynch-mob, and their penchant for eventually cannibalizing their own online in his dust. What a lucky intellectual!
Just in time to publish a work for a new era without having his reputation torn to shreds by a bunch of self-defeating "social justice warriors" and vindictive, misandrist and albophobic, snot-nosed trolls posing as "revolutionaries".

Of course I mention South Africa here because that's my cultural milieu, but it could well apply to many other countries with Western cultural ties and roots.

Although I've done spot-readings of his aforementioned tome in the past, I've started to read it from start to finish, and I hope to add to this thread as more issues become relevant to our current culture wars.

What strikes me so far is how old an occidental yearning for "primitivism" is (and yes, this yearning hardly occurs outside the occidental sphere of influence), juxtaposed with ironically wanting all the advancements of modernism.
While Barzun certainly discusses "primitivism" as a driving force in occidental culture (or even anti-culture, or counter-cultural aspects of dominant "culture") the current contextualization and phraseology is my own interpretation.

Anyway, a highly recommended book.
edit on 19-1-2019 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 19 2019 @ 11:34 AM
At the time of the death of the author (2012) or when the book was first published (2000) things were not yet as needlessly polemical, over-sensitive and vicious.

But I think he foretells it in places, and if published today, I can well imagine some trolls would have found it offensive, and he would have been stripped of his reputation.

Would Barzun have been de-platformed for speaking engagements from campuses at least due to some imagined slur? I have an inkling he would have been. I mean nowadays simply by the dint of being white and male you must be doing something mentally nefarious. A "social justice warrior" or "Twitter archeologist" must just get motivated enough to find it. And like all good inquisitions you're found guilty from the point of accusation. That's how fast the academic bastions of Leftism and so-called "free-speech" have descended into outright fascism.
edit on 19-1-2019 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 19 2019 @ 12:17 PM
In the meantime, it's best to stay apart from that, get the popcorn and gradually watch them devour each other, as identity politics become tighter and more ridiculous each day (while also becoming obscenely more biased each day).

Maybe those with true academic and media interests will one day rebuild the ruins that the current intellectual establishment left behind.
edit on 19-1-2019 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 19 2019 @ 01:13 PM
Just a footnote: I did first write snippets of this on my Facebook account, while testing the waters for what is sustainable as a thread, or "thread-worthy" on ATS.

Entertaining or testing a lot of ideas doesn't always suit ATS, and especially in the more serious forums it may disrupt the thread-flow.
So I work from a template, especially with more intellectual threads.

Just saying, in case anybody Googles it, and gets it twice that was both me, and my own work.
Except where quotes are indicated, I can't really plagiarize myself.
And short of spelling it out, all the keyboard wizards and mods on ATS can see exactly who I am, and that I am the author.

I also understand that if ever published I will recognize any Internet platform (including, and especially my dear ATS) as part owners of such material.

Just something that worried me for a while, because I tend to toggle between two sites, but I'm not committing plagiarism - I'm the same original author. Yeah, and you'll find the same pics too (I made sure I'm recognizable - there's method to the madness).

It should all go without saying - but, I'm just foretelling the day some "Twitter archeologist" turns his attention to me and claims, but Halfoldman stole half of what he wrote from some dude on Facebook.
Yeah, and that dude is me.
Very easy to prove.
edit on 19-1-2019 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 01:40 PM
On Barzun, Petrach and narrative:

Petrach and his poems to Laura: "Petrach's name today evokes the name of Laura, to whom the poet wrote sonnets and odes for years, and these were in Italian. Incidentally, he made no attempts at intimacy; indeed so varied was the purely literary tribute that some scholars classify the poems as pro-Laura, anti-Laura and neutral - deconstruction with a vengeance." In: "From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 To the present: 500 Years of Western cultural life", page 48.

On this fact Byron commented in his satirical poem "Don Juan": "Think you if Laura had been Petrarch's wife/He would have written sonnets all his life?" (bid., page 48.)

Nevertheless, as an act of humanist nostalgia to ancient Rome and Greece, Petrarch was crowned with laurel leafs, and thus became a "poet laureate". "And after him and without end, Europe had been flooded with lovelornery in sonnet form. The species that we owe to Petrarch is now regarded as if the command: 'thou shalt stop at the the fourteenth lines' had been uttered on Mount Sinai" (ibid., page 50). His poems never actually did consistently, but the techniques of film and narrative (and I would add the Internet) were foretold by Petrarch and Shakespeare - a narrative by episode closer to modern autobiography, rather than the flowing epic (ibid., page 51).

Of course Petrarch was actually a clergyman, and his final works were on the benefits of solitude. Which would all eventually draw attention to another great humanist irony: religion and morality are actually miles apart from each other.
edit on 7-3-2019 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 02:21 PM
To this effect the occidental yearning for "primitivism" also became increasingly reductive.

"Platonic love", for example, simply means the lack of sexual relations, never mind the countless other things by which if could be defined.

posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 06:24 PM

originally posted by: halfoldman

What strikes me so far is how old an occidental yearning for "primitivism"

Only the wealthy yearn for primitivism. Everybody else is either too busy earning a living or struggling to survive.

posted on Mar, 8 2019 @ 11:17 AM
a reply to: teapot

Yip, imagine making a movie where for one week all the rich people get to live in the jungle and grow kale, and all the poor people get to move to their houses in suburbia.

Then I could have a real "Platonic" relationship.
Not because I tied a metaphorical knot in it, but because we live in a cave.
(OK, if you haven't studied Philosophy 101 you won't catch that.)

posted on Mar, 8 2019 @ 11:37 AM
a reply to: halfoldman

I stink therefore I am?

posted on Mar, 8 2019 @ 11:54 AM
a reply to: teapot

As was truly spoken by Rene Defartes.

posted on Mar, 25 2019 @ 05:02 PM
Barzun on the Inquisition: "Inquisition as such, that is apart from methods and severity of results, has remained a live institution. [...] In the United States at present the workings of 'political correctness' in universities and the speech police that punishes persons and corporations for words on certain topics quaintly called 'sensitive' are manifestations of the permanent spirit of inquisition". (Jacques Barzun: "From Dawn to Decadence" [2001], page 109.)

posted on Mar, 25 2019 @ 05:03 PM
Oh dear, "does communism in goods mean wives too, as in Plato? Campanella brings up the controversy of the early church between St. Clement, who answered Yes, and Tertullian, who said: 'all in common, except wives'. Being in favor of eugenic breeding, Campanlla reports that the Citizens of the Sun side with St. Clement (like the first Anabaptists), but he hedges by adding that they misunderstood the argument.

posted on May, 25 2019 @ 02:39 PM
Jacques Barzun regarding censorship and oppression: "What is curious about 20th century dictatorships is that with their powerful means of repression they fear the slightest murmur of dissent. A careless word, a misitimed joke is enough to suggest heresy. This remains true under present-day day 'political correctness', but so far the penalties have been mild - opprobrium, loss of employment and virtual exclusion from the profession. Any form of persecution implies an amazing belief in the power of ideas, indeed of mere words casually spoken. How this consorts with the Marxist dogma that that the only true causes of events are material is not clear. The Catholic Inquisition had a better estimate of what was harmful and why." (Ibid. by Jacques Barzun [2001], page 272.)

Earlier on the page: "Extreme diversity of opinion makes certain individuals uncomfortable, it affronts their own opinions. Then this discontent brings together a group that opposes pluralism in the name of some absolute such as moral or national unity" (Barzun 2001: 272.)

Well said for 2001, and rather prophetic considering Barzun was in his nineties when this tome was published.
But can one still say the penalties for going against the Leftist/globalist hegemony in 2019 are mild?

I wouldn't call having your access to virtually all means of survival cut (possibly including banking) "mild".
edit on 25-5-2019 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)


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