Sunday, July 06, 2008

Sunday Thought - the horror

We scarcely remember what the sacred is — and are horrified by what we have forgotten...Anything that is uniquely inalterable horrifies us even to imagine, because we are living, acting transgressions. We are the horror. To us, nothing is sacred — not even the feeling intellect. Thus, we are the living witnesses to the collapse of the last sacred institution of Western culture, the university, that temple of intellect of which Weber was the last truly great and knowing high priest. Now, the youth of the university, its novitiates, are dancing their final war dance against the uniquely inalterable, the vocation of intellect itself, ordered in its special institution, the university. The students caper around the sacred, in its last phase, producing their heroic little frenzies, mimetically anticipating their victory, the death of the sacred, by calls for ever new "values" and "criticism," produced on order by the university, for immediate political use. When the temple of the intellect is destroyed, or converted to use for political change or as a therapy center, then truly nothing will be sacred; everything will be alterable. Luckily, for me, I shall not live to see exactly how a cultureless society works. It will be the horror personified in numerous Kurtzes; I see them, in their adolescent years, all around me now, thinking they are bringing a higher civilization to us white brutes.

Philip Rieff


Lydia McGrew said...

There was an example of exactly this lately: In a national-level debate, a black team from Towson University refused to debate the topic assigned and instead insisted on "debating debate"--they used hip-hop and rap rather than "evidence and logic" to talk about "racism, sexism, and homophobia in the structure of debate." Their opponents, instead of calling a halt to the whole thing on the grounds that the rules were being flagrantly violated, tried to improvise and debate the black team on its chosen "subject." The black team was awarded the _victory_ in the debate by the judges. You should see the press release from Towson, all about "the first African Americans ever to win this debate. ...Young people leading us into the future," etc.

By refusing to debate. The judges said, "They had a very non-traditional style. That was their strength." Their cheated opponents talked benignly about how they didn't want to tell them, "Let's stick to the subject" or anything. Oh, no, of course not.

It was insane. So even debate, which might have been thought to be a last place in the Academy where something academically respectable goes on, has come to this.

Bill said...

So the horror is real.

You know, if someone I didn't know had told me that story, I'd have thought, "She's making it up." But it's a snapshot of what Rieff is no doubt glad he did not live to see.

Lydia McGrew said...

Here is the PDF of the original Baltimore Sun article. I'm not sure why the article isn't easily available at the Baltimore Sun's own site:

And here is Towson University's crowing press release on it, which confirms the story:

I got it via VFR. The VFR reader got it from VDare. But there appears to be no doubt that it happened as stated.

Bill said...

Thanks a bunch; I'll read'em.

On the surface the whole thing seems to involve a contempt for fair play, without which, in any arena, no society can survive.

Lydia McGrew said...

They make depressing reading. I posted the links because the store _does_ sound unbelievable, but there it is. Evidently victim groups are exempted from fair play. And what is postmodernism but various ways of saying, "The rules don't apply. The rules are instruments of oppression"? So this is postmodern debate.

Lydia McGrew said...

Make that "story does sound unbelievable."