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por FJV, em 30.08.05
||| We no longer learn by heart.
«The atrophy of memory is the commanding trait in mid and later twentieth-century education and culture. The great majority of us can no longer identify, let alone quote, even the central biblical or classical passages which not only are the underlying script of western literature (from Caxton to Robert Lowell, poetry in English has carried inside it the implicit echo of previous poetry), but have been the alphabet of our laws and public institutions. The most elementary allusions to Greek mythology, to the Old and the New Testament, to the classics, to ancient and to European history, have become hermetic. Short bits of text now lead precarious lives on great stilts of footnotes. The identification of fauna and flora, of the principal constellations, of the liturgical hours and seasons on which, as C. S. Lewis showed, the barest understanding of western poetry, drama and romance from Boccaccio to Tennyson intimately depends, is now specialized knowledge. We no longer learn by heart.» George Steiner, No Passion Spent. Essays 1978-1995

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por FJV, em 30.08.05
||| After culture.
«There is nothing natural, nothing self-evident in this wager against mortality, against the common, unharried promises of life. In the overwhelming majority of cases -- and the gambler on transcendence knows this in advance -- the attempt will be a failure, nothing will survive. There may be a cancerous mania in the mere notion of producing great art or philosophic shapes -- acts, by definition, free of utility and immediate reward. Flaubert howled like a man racked at the thought that Emma Bovary-his creature, his contrivance of arrayed syllables -- would be alive and real, long after he himself had gone to a painful death. There is a calm enormity, the more incisive for its deliberate scriptural echo, in Pope's assertion that "to follow Poetry as one ought, one must forget father and mother, and cleave to it alone." For "Poetry" in that sentence, one can read mathematics, music, painting, astrophysics, or whatever else consumes the spirit with total demand.» George Steiner, In Bluebeard's Castle.

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