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Mirimirage

Allusion is not Illusion

You'll pry my books off my cold, dead body. By the time you shift them all I'll be flat and dessicated.

Currently reading

Winter's Tales
Karen Blixen, Isak Dinesen
Black Lamb and Grey Falcon
Christopher Hitchens, Rebecca West
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Susanna Clarke
Already Dead
Charlie Huston
The Rings of Saturn
W.G. Sebald, Michael Hulse
Lady Audley's Secret
Mary Elizabeth Braddon, David Skilton
Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became "People" - And How You Can Fight Back
Thom Hartmann
The City, Not Long After
Pat Murphy
You Can Sketch: A Step-by-Step Guide for Absolute Beginners
Jackie Simmonds
Lonely Werewolf Girl
Martin Millar
Culture and Anarchy - Jane Garnett, Matthew Arnold Reason -- "Sweetness and Light" -- Culture -- Perfection -- for Arnold these terms are nearly synonymous, and all underlie the same central claim: the cause of disorder is both identifiable and curable. Arnold's goal here is not to propose a specific program of reform but, as he says in Democracy, to "invite impartial reflections." While Arnold does not precisely live up to his own asserted impartiality, his essay does seem constructed to persuade rather than to argue. This results from a combination of its winning tone and abstract sentiments, which, though not conclusive in the sense required by formal debate are both clearly formulated and thought-provoking. Arnold's ideas have a complexity which defies easy categorization and prevents them from being dismissed without consideration, even by those who do not accept them.

Despite the balance implied in his title, the emphasis in Culture and Anarchy is primarily on the the former. In fact, the definition of culture is his first topic of argument. He poses three question concerning culture: "What is it? What good can it do? What is our special need of it?" (57). He begins by presenting what he describes as the prevailing reaction to the term, citing a speech by Liberal politician Bright:
"People will talk about what they call culture!... by which they mean a smattering of the two dead languages of Latin and Greek." And he went on to remark... how poor a thing this culture is, how little good it can do to the world... Said Mr Frederick Harrison, "Perhaps the silliest cant of the day is the cant about culture. Culture is a desirable quality in a critic of new books, and sits well on a professor of belles-lettres; but as applied to politics, it means simply a turn for small fault-finding, love of selfish ease, and indecision in action." (55)
Arnold asserts a far broader and more positive definition of culture, rooting it in "a study of perfection".