Sunday, March 23, 2008

And how is this bad?


I was looking for a positive quote about being a dilettante and stumbled upon this (dabbler being a synonym for dilettante).

“If you look at history you'll find that no state has been so plagued by its rulers as when power has fallen into the hands of some dabbler in philosophy or literary addict.”
-Desiderius Erasmus


Personally, I'd be quite happy if we had rulers (read: politicians) who were literate. It'd be a damn sight better than ones who seem not to have finished 12th grade English or spend their free time shooting birds and friends. . .

If you know something about Erasmus and would like to explain the context, please leave a comment.

1 comment:

Phil Fox Rose said...

Note Erasmus says "dabbler in philosophy or literary addict". This is not the same as "literate". He says this in the context of remarks about how dismal and cynical intellectuals are. I looked it up to refresh my memory and here's a snippet from the same essay: "Ask a wise man to dinner and he'll upset everyone by his gloomy silence or tiresome questions... Haul him off to a public entertainment and his face will be enough to spoil the people's enjoyment."

Case in point is Jimmy Carter going on television and proclaiming to the nation that there was a malaise gripping the people and thus amplifying this reality and making it a fait d'accomplis. The rare and ideal combination for a leader is someone who is smart without being cynical or removed from everyday reality. Erasmus says nothing on this except perhaps to not see its possibility.