Archives for August 2007

History, language, and the Higher Blarney

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.


Those what cannot remedy the past can pretend to repeal it.

—Howland Owl

The second text is from Doyle and Sternecky’s revival of Pogo, which met a worse fate than it deserved. Howland attributed it to ‘Santa Ana’, but it was his own (or his authors’) genius that distorted the quotation into a sort of Freudian slip of the Zeitgeist worthy of P. G. Wodehouse. On the one hand you have the serious philosopher of history, weary and worldly-wise, bluntly restating the obvious law for the thousandth tedious time; on the other, the half-baked Postmodernist, illiterate but pretentious, vaguely remembering some better man’s scripture that he may be able to cite to his purpose.

I have been too long in the company of the second kind of people. I mean the kind who mistake wishful thinking for valid reasoning. If you point out the difference between these things they call you heartless, and if you prove them wrong about the facts they call you an intellectual bully. ‘Everyone is entitled to their own opinion,’ they smugly say; and if they are a little more learned, according to their dim and dubious lights, they add that you are merely making a transparent patriarchalist attempt to oppress alternative modalities of enlightenment by determining the parameters of discourse. [Read more…]