A Matthew Arnold Short Course, For the Deluded
or, Suggested readings for Guy Fawkes Day:
#1. the concluding stanza of "Dover Beach":
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the word, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
#2. from "The Function of Criticism at the Present Time" :
"The mass of humankind will never have any ardent zeal for seeing things as they are; very inadequate ideas will always satisfy them. On these inadequate ideas reposes, and must repose, the general practice of the world. That is as much as saying that if you set yourself to see things as they are, you will find yourself one of a very small circle; but it is only by this small circle resolutely doing its own work that adequate ideas will ever get current at all. The rush and roar of practical life will always have a dizzying and attracting effect upon the most collected spectators, and tend to draw them into its vortex . . . But it is only by remaining collected, and refusing to lend himself to the point of view of the practical man, that the critic can do the practical man any service; and it is only by the greatest sincerity in pursuing his own course, and by at last convincing even the practical man of his sincerity, that he can escape misunderstandings which perpetually threaten him."
#3. Good blog post about V for Vendetta
and other expressions of Culture and Anarchy.
#5. "It is not only the leader of men, statesman, philosopher, or poet, that owes this duty to mankind. Every rustic who delivers in the village ale-house his slow, infrequent sentences, may help to kill or keep alive the fatal superstitions which clog his race. Every hard-worked wife of an artisan may transmit to her children beliefs which shall knit society together, or rend it in pieces. No simplicity of mind, no obscurity of station, can escape the universal duty of questioning all that we believe. ~ William Clifford
for this enlightening reference.