Monday, 20 October 2008

Dulling the Mind

Via Lawrece Auster's VFR I discovered Tiberge's blog Galliawatch and specifically the post from which I quote:
The only factors that propel a language from mere street talk to the level of a great cultural asset are the men of genius who write great literature, the poets who open new avenues of expression, leading to a higher level of consciousness, the artists, musicians, essayists, playwrights, actors, journalists, commentators, teachers, scholars, etc... all of whom use, manipulate and enrich the language with individuality, and at the same time with national pride.

Such men are inspired and inspire others. But how to bring about a return to cultural excellence in this time of spiritual impoverishment? How to generate inspiration? Lawrence Auster, who was responsible for my discovering the site, has some suggestions:

To paraphase Obama's "spreading the wealth," what they're doing now is trying to save French by "spreading the French," instead of by elevating it. Meaning, improve the quality of French among the French people. Teach great literature. Instill love of France and French culture, so that the French have something worth talking about again. Make Muslims unwelcome and start pushing them out, thus re-invigorating French identity. Dismantle the EU and the entire managerial, liberal, egalitarian, and Eurabian agenda and consciousness, which kill the mind, turn language into a PC tool to conceal instead of a tool to communicate truth. Bring back belief in truth, so that there will be things worth saying again, worth using language well for...

[...]

Once French nation and culture and its Western identity have been saved and revived, and once the French used by the French people has been improved and purified, then start to make French attractive again to other Westerners. Forget about trying to make it attractive to Third Worlders. As you suggested from the articles at that site, such efforts do not avail. Accept the fact that France cannot have an empire again, that trying to have a Muslim empire only Islamizes France, but see that French can still be saved, because the greatness and beauty of French can still have a great appeal to fellow white Westerners. Thus encourage French as a universal second language in the West alongside English. It won't be as widespread as English, of course, but the unique beauty of French and the "high" of speaking it gives French an appeal that English can't match.

What do you think?


I responded that I agreed completely with his ideas but didn't think it would happen. However, I added that my more fatalistic view is not to be taken as a prediction. One never knows how things will evolve. After all the Renaissance was ushered in by disastrous events. That could happen again.

I would add a couple of ideas to what he said. First, start teaching LATIN again, and even Greek, if you can find students willing to make the effort. Second, STOP teaching French children the "global" method of reading. This language-destroying method has had a demonstrably disastrous effect on the way the formerly well-educated French spell, conjugate verbs, and express themselves. This applies to the teaching of foreign languages as well. Third, STOP teaching French to foreigners via the "global" (or "audio-visual-lingual") method. This method can lead to chaos. Language study for older students has to be structured and grammar has to be taught systematically, whether the students like it or not. Then it is easy to make the transition to structured speech, and eventually to everyday speech. (Note: the final step to authentic everyday speech at normal speed is never easy.) Foreigners are not learning French any better than the French are learning their own language.

[...]

A return to the teaching of the classics is one very good way of re-stimulating interest in the languages of Europe, including German and Castilian Spanish, which is very difficult - has anyone tackled Don Quijote in Spanish? The original version used to be read in American universities, but that would be very rare today. However a solid background in Latin would facilitate access to the great literatures of Western Europe...

As for German, it was quickly phased out (again, not entirely) after 1968. Nobody was willing to make the effort. Dumbing down the mind, and jacking up the grades became the unexpressed and inexpressible goals of American education.

Finally, what would happen if we suddenly began making intellectual demands on hedonistic young people, or people from different cultures who simply do not have the background to do rigorous work? Would there be violence? Is dumbing down a defense against revolution? Would it be better to just close the schools? I have often thought so, but people turn in disgust from such suggestions. They say "education is our future." That's what we all fear, isn't it?
It is indeed!

I do not speak French well enough to express an educated judgement about that specific language here, I just never liked it on a gut level because I subjectively perceived it as effeminate and still do. I was taught English, French and Latin at school and when I had to choose between the latter two I chose, silly and immature as I was, Latin because it seemed to me the lesser evil (and predictably I wasn't very good at it, which I still deplore and always will) and because I liked the Latin teacher marginally better than the French teacher. I do, however, cherish the basic understanding of language with which my Latin training, imperfect as it may have been, endowed me. I love my native language and I love English, which I speak and write well, I love Shakespeare, that unique all-time chronicler of humanity, I love the intriguing details of that language, its intricate times and mysterious prepositions which I have yet fully to master, its subtle societal implications and snobberies, some of which I am still discovering, a fact that, curiously, led to an even more intense dislike of French because of all the French-based politically correct linguistic abominations which are polluting the English language, most of them via the American backdoor.

I am sure I said something to the same effect before, but any English speaker who uses words like "romance" or "lingerie" ought to be clobbered to death with a leather-bound volume of Burke's Peerage.

But I digress and my lack of affection for the French language doesn't change the truth of what Tiberge and Lawrence Auster are saying, nor, indeed, the point I am trying to make: To place the 'dumbing down the mind, and jacking up the grades' of which Tiberge is speaking and the '"spreading the French," instead of by elevating it', as Lawrence Auster puts it, into the framework of my yobbofication -- a downlevelling to the lowest common denominator -- theory.

Yobbofication, as I understand it, has hijacked each and every nook and cranny of our Western culture, triggered off by the progressive goals, most of which were defined in the Sixties and early Seventies, some much earlier. Whether the problems of race, class, general equality or equal opportunities were tackled, it all ended in new injustices instead of ending the old ones. The following examples are randomly chosen and their order is purely random as well:

Initially, the target was to allow Blacks to become worthy members of the community and to end hatred. Now in countries with a considerable black population whites have become quasi-legitimate targets of black savagery and black gutter-culture has become a defining part of the mainstream.

I wrote at VFR in August:
I used to be crazy about the Olympics until they became totally commercialized and meaningless sometimes in the Eighties and with the Olympic Games going on now, I am reminded of those black American athletes of the past who have been such a credit to their country... The first Olympic Games I was able to follow were the 1960 Games in Rome and I remember how impressed I, a little girl, had been by Wilma Rudolph. Blacks of the generations to which Owens and Rudolph belonged were forced to play their game by the white man's rules. Then they were granted equal rights and sometimes along the way they got (or better: were given) the idea that they were actually superior and deserved preferential treatment. The frightening "yobbofication" (I have made up that word myself for want of a better one) we are currently watching with all its horrific consequences, is a result of white cowardice and a perverted notion of equality and justice. When the eternal truth that people are indeed NOT all equal is given up and ethics, morality and communication are geared to the lowest, instead of the highest, denominator, something horrible will happen, and it has.
Initially, the target was to give women the right not to be treated as second-class citizens. Now female "empowerment" has undermined literally all traditional institutions and values.

Initially, the target was to end a humiliating situation for homosexuals. (Didn't all of us know at least one of those inoffensive, even pleasant, mostly elderly, quiet, educated, middle class couples?). Now we are forced to watch (and even to approve of) debauchery and depravity that defies description.

Initially, the target was to make up for the worst of the gross injustices humans are bound to create, now we do not have limitless estate- or corporate powers anymore, but a welfare state that has crippled people's initiative, will to perform and pride.

Initially, the target was do do away with bigotry, racism, xenophobia and hatred, now we are grovelling before an alien death cult in the name of "religious freedom", "equality" and "multiculturalism".

Initially, the target was to spare some poor souls who had been, by sheer naivity, lack of knowledge and general incompetence, impregnated out of wedlock by some ruthless male a fate of social ostracism, now Little Miss Homebreaker gets an interview in a national glossy magazine right beside the interview with the cheated-upon wife.

Initially, the target was to allow people, who didn't have the money to buy formal clothes, to participate in certain social gatherings, and the outcome is a horrible display of tastelessness, vulgarity and lack of discernment throughout all classes, at each and every occasion, and at all times of the day.

In the same spirit, initially, the target was to do away with arrogance, class consciousness, racism and un-niceness generally and the outcome is the death of togetherness, family, marriage and a --you've guessed it-- horrible display of tastelessness, vulgarity and lack of discernment.

In all those cases, society hasn't elevated "Les Damnés de la Terre" up, but stooped to their level in a sad travesty of justice because the basic truth that NOT all people are equal has been first denied and then vilified and, like people, societies that deny the basic truths of life will get sick.

Take any recent political happening and try to apply my "yobbofication" theory. It will work a treat. Take, for example, Sarah Palin and her pregnant daughter! I'd say that in times when we dared calling "nice girls" by that name, nice girls didn't become pregnant. Full stop. Even if the supervision wasn't 24/7, it was understood that, at that age, a relationship with a boy or man intimate enough to get one pregnant was out of the question, contraceptives or not. One respected one's parents and -- yes -- one was afraid of the social consequences as well. But it is elitist now to remind girls of the fact that they are "nice girls". They don't have to fear social consequences anymore (that would be authoritarian) and they don't have something like a "reputation" to lose anymore (that would be sexist) and to be "authoritarian", "sexist" or -- Heaven forbid! -- "elitist" is almost as anathema as being "racist".

Take, to bring this to an end, Tiberge's 'dumbing down the mind, and jacking up the grades', take Lawrence Auster's '"spreading the French," instead of by elevating it', both fit perfectly the picture of downlevelling to the lowest common denominator. I remember, being child-, sibling-, nephew- and nieceless myself and, then, too young to be familiar with children attending Gymnasium (the German version of a grammar school) anyway, how horrified I was when I realized that a friend's son had to write a "critique" of a penny dreadful for his German class when he hadn't even been introduced to the classics or anything else that is good, beautiful and timeless in German literature. That was roughly 30 years ago. Have things improved since then? You must be joking.

Losing our language because it is dumbed down to a simplified everyday-version even a moron can understand means to lose the ability to express our thoughts -- and, finally, to HAVE thoughts. And that is what it is, at the end of the day, all about.

4 comments:

Terry Morris said...

Losing our language because it is dumbed down to a simplified everyday-version even a moron can understand means to lose the ability to express our thoughts -- and, finally, to HAVE thoughts. And that is what it is, at the end of the day, all about.

Very well said, Nora. Great post!

The_Editrix said...

Thank you, Terry! I had a good guideline, though.

tiberge said...

@ editrix,

I see they call you Nora. This is my first encounter with your blog and I am duly contrite for not having known about it, especially since I read Lawrence Auster every chance I get. I must have missed your presence there somehow.

I intend to post a link to your blog and to this most excellent comment that was triggered by my rather humble essay. I'm delighted Lawrence participated in it and that you found it worthy.

And of course I agree with every word you say. I was one of those who fell in love with French and with France. But this was in the early 60's, when the civilization was still unmistakeably French and the country, especially its capital, engulfed the visitor in a kind of protective cloak, a magical cloud that made you want to stay there forever and never return to the real world. This began to change and by the mid-70's the ugly tall buildings, the expressways along the Seine, the neon lights, the hideous American teenage influence began their inexorable destruction. One hoped against hope that the French would resist. I have not been back there since 1975. If I were to go back today, I think I would become very depressed, to say the least.

I also regret not knowing German. But I love German opera - my favorites are Ariadne auf Naxos and Die Meistersinger. I have not read Goethe, because I feel that one should know German to read him. Possibly I'm wrong.

At any rate, it's been a pleasure to "meet" you.

The_Editrix said...

Thank you for your kind words, Tiberge! My real name is widely known and "The Editrix" just a gimmick, although one Lawrence Auster seems to like. I agree about Paris, I have been there with my parents as a child in the Fifties and as a young girl in the mid-Sixties (my father was a Francophile) and although I never felt much of an affinity with the French and their culture, I'd say that the charme of that specific city was hard to beat. I, too, doubt that it is worthwhile to go there now.

It makes me sad that Germany doesn't seem to be on the international map and if it is admired, it is almost invariably for the wrong reasons. Germany is a terrifically complex country with a different structure and history than the other Western European countries. The purpose of this blog was at first to inform about this, but I always felt that this wasn't the reason why my readers (at one time I could boast a Technorati-ranking somewhere in the fortythousands) came here, altough I am still marvelling why. So about a year ago, I all but closed down this blog and only the discovery of certain conservative American blogs has revived my interest in my own one.

But back to Germany: My favourite German opera (I do not relate to Wagner, his music just sounds like noise to me) is Beethoven's Fidelio, the opera to end all operas and as well an eternally valid concept of and symbol for humanity. Try to get a recording with the wonderful Christa Ludwig.

As for Goethe, you are right. He is too uniquely German to be comprehensible in any other language (I think). Also, I think most non-Germans would be bored by him and his message. Maybe that is the reason, too, why my earlier blogging efforts were largely futile. I guess we are for ever doomed to live in our own little world, admired, and sometimes hated, for the wrong reasons and largely unnoticed otherwise, and it was just hubristic to think that I, of all people might be able to change that.

But whatever, I gladly return the compliment that it is nice to "meet" you!