Friday, April 23, 2010


For we, which now behold these present days,
Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise.

William Shakespeare
One of the mysteries that baffles me, and it really does, is why the most important, imaginative and beautiful additions to our culture and our lives are rather like trying to grow orchids in a swamp. In this country we have constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech, which means any idiot can stand up in public and say the most outrageously stupid things and he has the legal right to do it. Okay, that's fine. But a problem occurs if he seems to speak with the voice of authority, because then people believe him and start saying the same things themselves.

The problem is even more acute in the arts. Books are published. paintings are hung, songs are sung that have no substance to them at all. Most movies are made for teenagers today, as are most TV shows and record albums. There is a glut of things that have no future life at all, and the fact is no one cares. There is also an endless parade of communication gadgets and yet what is actually communicated of any value on any of them?

People have complained for a long time about the lowering of standards and while the complaints have piled up the standards have continued to drop. Many culprits have been accused: environment, education, parental influence, peer pressure, fear of affectation, and any number of other factors. If those are the reasons they should be addressed and given serious cure.

I keep wondering where the eloquence is. Is it being completely drowned out by the noise of the swamp. It certainly does not come from our congress members, the poltical pundits and qazis, the TV preachers, the talk show hosts and stand up comics. Beautiful words, fancy phrases and purple prose do not make eloquence. A simple idea simply stated is worth 20 pages of literary huffing and 20 minutes of speech puffing. But what about a complex idea?

We are now venturing out into the universe for the first time in our history and what we hear is a lot of esoteric computer instruction and a lot of thank yous, all of it important to be sure, but where is the poetry. Is it only in the technology? Are robots the poets of the future? And if so, who are the chefs and gardeners?

That Shakespeare, one of the most eloquent artists of all time, wrote these words way back in the 16th Century shows that this is a very old problem.

I believe in the inherent intelligence of every creature. Human intelligence is of the highest order that we know of. Why don't we use it? What a shame!

You have given me the eyes to wonder. Now please give me the tongue to praise.

DB - The Vagabond
(This is not a contest.)

In your opinion what is the most amazing thing that could happen during this decade? Make it as outrageous as you want but keep it within the realm of what you consider a possibility.

Only 6 responses so far.

Answers will be published the first day of Summer.

DB - The Vagabond


Gerry said...

It is my theory that there have always been a great many louts but we only heard about the most cultured people and got the idea there were a great many more developed people than there were. Millions lived and died barely able to function above an animal level, but when more education was implemented for the masses then we get the strange phenomena we have now of thousands of people who can read and write but not too well, and we are conscious of them because they have rightly demanded some publicity of their efforts.
Now I was for all this development so I try to keep in mind that what has happened is only a natural outcome of more people getting a voice. I do not think the world learns that much from having the words of the great masters taught them for centuries. So a respect for the great masters has somewhat faded, but I don't think that is a bad thing. I think that this just paves the way for new masters to rise out of the ranks of the louts and half educated. It is necessary to go with the flow. Say what is my opportunity here and go with it. I lamented once because I could not get to a back east university where I thought I would be better educated and have more of a chance to publish some distinguished novel of some sort. But that did not happen. I happen to live among a great many people who are not educated at all! When I first realized how low I had fallen I thought how can I make the most of this. I discovered the Internet. People out there. I thought well I will just hunt for the intellectuals out there. I pegged you for being an intellectual. I am just reading a book about a guy who worked for Norman Mailer in his last years, and he was still working very hard on his novels. I thought of you when I was reading as you said you knew Norman Mailer and had talked to him. What did thinking people always do but try to make their way to the ones who were educated and could think and try to make the most of any contact. So I was waiting for you to say something intelligent today as I have not been able to talk to anyone here who said anything below the surface all day. The only place I may get this now is in a book or through the Internet and blogging. Sometimes from members of my family. Communication is much better now days. It is more possible to connect to someone not even close. I think life's better because of that. The past just seems to have been superior but not when you examine it closely.

Valerie said...

I know that the average I.Q. is 100, and that is scary to me. When I was in school, I was taught more science and art and literature than they are taught today. It is fading. Your blog is eloquent and beautiful - even when you struggle. That is why I read it daily. I hope your weekend is decent, DB. Val xox