It is summertime and the reading is hard. I am overdosed on the tomes that warn how our schools, our culture, our academies, and our justice system are failing. The “caliphate” is coming, capitalism is dying, pseudo environmentalism is ruining the planet and industry, we are on a downward spiral, the sky is falling and only obesity, the new bi-partisan national obsession, is going up. Don’t get me wrong. Most of those books are informative and worth reading, but I’m suffering from crisis fatigue and a desire for a touch of political amnesia and an Anthony Trollope novel.
Therefore it was with some hesitation that I started Roger Kimball’s new book “The Fortunes of Permanence-Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia.” Roger Kimball gives the lie to those who claim that culture, language, erudition and wit have been hijacked by multiculturalism.
His knowledge is dazzling and in the most elegant and witty prose sparkling with quotes from Aristotle to Stefan Zweig, he debunks the modern self-righteous and destructive attitude that all points of view on all subjects have equal value and merit.
In a recent column about the notorious and atrocious writer Alice Walker, professor and critic Edward Alexander wrote of Irving Howe for whom the substitution of Alice Walker for John Keats in the American curriculum epitomized the debasement of public education. As Kimball illustrates, the debasement continues as cultural reversal and Elton John is now put on the same level as Bach.
The irony is that with a keyboard and mouse information is virtually instant and yet students know less history, less geography, less mathematics and less literature. They are indifferent and blasé in schools more concerned with teaching self esteem and promoting deviancy as dissidence. As Kimball puts it “Data, data everywhere but no one knows a thing.”