Sunday, April 22, 2012

Richard Weaver / Engaging the Culture

"There is another type of outsider, however, who may entertain hope of doing something about a culture that is weakening. He is a member of the culture who has to some degree estranged himself from it through study and reflection. He is like the savant in society: though in it, he is not wholly of it; he has acquired knowledge and developed habits of thought which enable him to see it in perspective and to guage it. He has not lost the intuitive understanding which belongs to him as a member, but he has added something to that. A temporary alienation from his culture may be followed by an intense preoccupation with it, but on a more reflective level than that of the typical member. He has become sufficiently aware of what is outside it to see it as a system or an entity. This person may be a kind of doctor of culture; in one way he is crippled by his objectivity, but in another way he is helped to what he must have, a point of view, and a consciousness of freedom of movement." --Richard Weaver, Visions of Order To be unfamiliar with a thing can, it seems, help one know it better. Converts, notoriously, know Catholicism better than cradle Catholics. If we want to understand a culture, then, in some sense we perhaps should be separated from it. And if understanding a culture is a prerequisite for "engaging a culture," then to engage the culture we first must draw back from it. To lead a thing, you have to be something other than that thing, no?


  1. Another of Chesterton's insights. I just read The Ballad of the White Horse last week, and recognized your title immediately (it had been a mystery to me before). Thanks for the quote.

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  3. ----

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