||| 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.