Blogging the Bookshelf

Blogging my bookshelf – one book at a time

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Entries from September 30th, 2011

Gibbon’s History – “Cultural Amnesia” – Clive James

September 30th, 2011 · Comments Off on Gibbon’s History – “Cultural Amnesia” – Clive James · History, Quotes

(Gibbon’s) Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire encapsulates—in a very large capsule—his idea that history is “little more than the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind.

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On Ayn Rand – “Cultural Amnesia” – Clive James

September 30th, 2011 · Comments Off on On Ayn Rand – “Cultural Amnesia” – Clive James · Culture, Extremism, Philosophy

Ayn Rand had one (a good title) with The Fountainhead, and another with Atlas Shrugged: a bit of a mouthful, but nobody has ever spat it out without first being fascinated with what it felt like to chew. Yet if those were not two of the worst books ever written—the worst books ever written don’t […]

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Tags:Ayn Rand·Books·objectivism··Titles

Ideology and Theories of Everything – “Cultural Amnesia” – Clive James

September 30th, 2011 · Comments Off on Ideology and Theories of Everything – “Cultural Amnesia” – Clive James · History, Ideology, Politics, Totalitarianism

The mass murderer is ever fond of theories that explain everything, and all the fonder if they can be acquired without study. There is no reasoning someone out of a position he has not reasoned himself into. People are drawn into these enthusiasms by no mechanism that has anything much to do with rational thought. […]

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Real Sell Outs – “Cultural Amnesia” – Clive James

September 29th, 2011 · Comments Off on Real Sell Outs – “Cultural Amnesia” – Clive James · Art, Culture, History, Hypocrisy, Philosophy, WW2

Sartre, whose underground activities had never amounted to anything except a secret meeting on Wednesday to decide whether there should be another meeting the following Tuesday, not only claimed the status of Resistance veteran but called down vengeance on people whose behaviour had not really been all that much more reprehensible than his own. The […]

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On Marxist Theology – “Cultural Amnesia” – Clive James

September 29th, 2011 · Comments Off on On Marxist Theology – “Cultural Amnesia” – Clive James · Communism, Philosophy, Politics, Progressive Politics

The Opium of the Intellectuals, which remains to this day, after all the years since it first appeared in 1955, the best debunking of Marxism as a theology, and the most piercing analysis of why that theology, during the twentieth century, should have had so pervasive and baleful an influence in the free nations. Even […]

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On Writing – “Cultural Amnesia” – Clive James

September 29th, 2011 · Comments Off on On Writing – “Cultural Amnesia” – Clive James · Prose, Writing

I learned a lot about writing from watching an older friend sanding down the freshly dried paint on his rebuilt motorbike so that he could give it another coat: he was after the deep, rich, pure glow.

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Art and the Hierarchy of Needs – “Cultural Amnesia” – Clive James

September 28th, 2011 · Comments Off on Art and the Hierarchy of Needs – “Cultural Amnesia” – Clive James · Art, Civilisation, Culture, History, Humanism, Literature, Totalitarianism

We also have to grasp that art proves its value by still mattering to people who have been deprived of every other freedom: indeed instead of mattering less, it matters more. Very true – the willingness of people in repressed regimes to risk their lives in the name of artistic expression is telling.

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Tags:art·

Learning, Entertainment and Academic Writing – “Cultural Amnesia” – Clive James

September 28th, 2011 · Comments Off on Learning, Entertainment and Academic Writing – “Cultural Amnesia” – Clive James · Complexity, Culture, Elitism, Writing

The necessity to entertain could sometimes be the enemy of learning, but not as often as the deadly freedom to write as if nobody would ever read the results except a faculty supervisor who owed his post to the same exemption.

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Writing and Memory – “Cultural Amnesia” – Clive James

September 28th, 2011 · Comments Off on Writing and Memory – “Cultural Amnesia” – Clive James · Admin, Culture, Reading Related, Writing

I would never have taken a note in the first place except out of the fear that what I was reading would soon slip away: a fear all too well founded. The Russian symbolist writer Andrei Bely once said that what we keep in our heads is the sum of a writer: a “composite quotation.” […]

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The Richest Cultural Moment in History – “Cultural Amnesia” – Clive James

September 27th, 2011 · Comments Off on The Richest Cultural Moment in History – “Cultural Amnesia” – Clive James · Art, Civilisation, Criticism, Culture, ICT, Music, Poetry

It would be a desirable and enviable existence just to earn a decent wage at a worthwhile job and spend all one’s leisure hours improving one’s aesthetic appreciation. There is so much to appreciate, and it is all available for peanuts. One can plausibly aspire to seeing, hearing and reading everything that matters. The times […]

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