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From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to the Present
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ART - ARCHITECTURE - CULTURE > 9. FROM DAWN... July 27 ~ August 2 ~~ Part Two - Chapter XIV and XV (333 -374) Non-Spoiler

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jul 28, 2009 05:42PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 44328 comments Mod
Fellow Readers..this is the assignment for this week:

July 27 – August 2 ~~ Part II, The Opulent Eye (333-358)
Also: The Encyclopedic Century (first part) (359-374)

The moderator tries to stimulate/instigate discussion but please feel free to open up any thread with questions of your own or your own opinions. These threads are for all of you.

Additionally, it is never too late to pick up the Barzun book and participate. We welcome all of the membership to this discussion.


Bentley

From Dawn to Decadence 500 Years of Western Cultural Life 1500 to the Present by Jacques Barzun







Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments I'm so far behind I'm surprised no one else has made any comments on this section. But here are some of my thoughts as I read.

On page 350 Barzun makes a strong argument for a form of situational ethics. He points out that "the proverbs: 'Look before you leap'; but 'He who hesitates is lost'" directly contradict each other. And yet both proverbs have their time and place. Which is, I guess, why we can't live life by following rules like the lines of a computer program. And it also explains why a wise person may say things that the press can dig out and "expose" as self-contradictory.

I also found it interesting that Barzun says (on page 361) that Voltaire's biographer, not Voltaire, coined the phrase "I wholly disapprove of what you say--and will defend to the death your right to say it." I assume Barzun is correct on this. Or does anyone have contrary evidence? It is amazing how misquotes like this become common knowledge.

Also, I was a little confused by the description of the British Mutiny Act on page 363. Not knowing enough about the British system, I guess, I didn't understand the need for re-passing the Mutiny Act each year. I found the associated wikipedia article very helpful: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutiny_Act.




message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 01, 2009 08:31AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 44328 comments Mod
Thank you Elizabeth S for digging in and getting this discussion started in this section. I suspect that others are playing catch up too.

Your second paragraph in Message 2 is thought provoking:

Elizabeth S stated: On page 350 Barzun makes a strong argument for a form of situational ethics. He points out that "the proverbs: 'Look before you leap'; but 'He who hesitates is lost'" directly contradict each other. And yet both proverbs have their time and place. Which is, I guess, why we can't live life by following rules like the lines of a computer program. And it also explains why a wise person may say things that the press can dig out and "expose" as self-contradictory.

So true Elizabeth S; we live in the day of instant replay and at any time they can load up one of your previous speeches and play it back in order to humiliate someone. The media and others also do not take into consideration that folks can learn, grow and modify their positions over time.

And Voltaire has always been credited with that quote. I think in this case Barzun is probably correct but I sadly admit that I do not have any personal knowledge.

Thank you Elizabeth S for posting that wikipeida article regarding the Mutiny Act. There are some British members in the group; maybe they have some knowledge of that point in their history from their personal study of British history while in school and/or their legal system which may have required the reposting.



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