Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Categories ...

... Conservative, essentialist.

The only account that I have been able to devise that subsumes all the different selections of prestigious works made at different times and in different places by different critics is this: Literature is good writing, where by definition ‘good’ yields no fixed definition.

If David subscribes to this account - and it has much to recommend it - he is definitely an existentialist, not an essentialist (as am I) on this question. As for what is literature and what is not, I'm still thinking.
(Politically, though I am often thought to be conservative, I like to think of myself as more of a 19th-century liberal. I am suspicious of concentrated, centralized power. As Lord Acton observed, "The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern: every class is unfit to govern." That, of course, could regarded as a conservative sentiment. I definitely do not look to the government - which makes nothing and sells nothing - as the principal means of ameliorating society's discontents. I think of it rather as another - and major - factor contributing to those discontents.)


  1. Frank,

    That last sentence makes you a conservative. Sorry.

  2. Frank, where to you categorize Louis XIV, Nicholas II, Queen (Empress) Victoria) and other avatars/projections of state power?

    Or Friedrich August Hayek, libertarian icon and author of "Why I An Not a Conservative"--?

  3. Well, David, if that be so, I can live with it. I am definitely not a 21st-century liberal. And Hayek, Buce, I started reading when I was in high school. Of course, when Hayek dissociated himself from conservatism, he had in mind European conservatism, which is an authoritarian, top-down variety that bears little resemblance to what usually goes by that name in America. One thing about conservatism: It is never merely a fashion statement.