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David Brooks' defense of the humanities

Link.


Technical knowledge stops at the outer edge. If you spend your life riding the links of the Internet, you probably won’t get too far into The Big Shaggy either, because the fast, effortless prose of blogging (and journalism) lacks the heft to get you deep below.

But over the centuries, there have been rare and strange people who possessed the skill of taking the upheavals of thought that emanate from The Big Shaggy and representing them in the form of story, music, myth, painting, liturgy, architecture, sculpture, landscape and speech. These men and women developed languages that help us understand these yearnings and also educate and mold them. They left rich veins of emotional knowledge that are the subjects of the humanities.

It’s probably dangerous to enter exclusively into this realm and risk being caught in a cloister, removed from the market and its accountability. But doesn’t it make sense to spend some time in the company of these languages — learning to feel different emotions, rehearsing different passions, experiencing different sacred rituals and learning to see in different ways?

This reminds me of Dirk Nowitzki's German trainer who required him to read good literature instead of just spending time shooting baskets and working out. It reminds me of crazy old Harold Bloom's argument that literature does not solve the world's problems, but it helps make our subjective reality easier to stomach, and helps us to understand mortality a bit more. And I remember that a young David Lynch decided to pursue "the art life" whatever the consequences.
No profanes - sacred
 
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