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am 7. September 1999
So much of modern criticism has go so far afield, that the appellation has almost lost any sense to it. To recapture what criticism meant before the novel, but useless ideas of structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction, post-modernism, et alia, Matthew Arnold is about as good a place to begin. His "Function of Criticism" and "Anarchy and Crticism" have become classics, even if they've been hidden from sight by academicians' self-serving agendas to bring nothing to light. This isn't a "conservative" vs. "liberal" thing, but an "intelligible and meaningful" vs. "labyrinthine and cockamamie" thing. Arnold is like encountering hermeneutics by having first visited Thomas Aquinas, or having studied democracy by having first studied Hobbes. Arnold is a seminal thinker, crtic, and student of the arts and society. He belongs in criticism's lexicon well before de Saussure, Derrida, Lacan, at alia.
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am 2. Mai 1999
Matthew Arnold, a British poet and critic, wrote on the importance of culture in this work. He defined culture, famously, as "sweetness and light" - implying that culture represented everything good, everything not barbaric. The work is most important for the way it forwards the notion of an "organic" society - that is, a society that evolves slowly, that grows into maturity, that does not strive for sudden "advances" led by experts working all at once to implement great change. For anyone wondering about the relationship between modern conservatism and classical Liberalism, this is a decent place to start. "I am a Liberal," Arnold writes in the introduction, "yet I am a Liberal tempered by experience, reflection, and renouncement, and I am, above all, a believer in culture." If you wish to take an intellectual journey from Burke to Bork, Arnold must make up one leg of your trip.
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