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Why Read Old Books?
PJ Media, by Victor Davis Hanson

Original Article

Posted By:Rakasha, 4/29/2013 6:36:24 AM

We all know the usual reasons why we are prodded to read the classics — moving characters, seminal ideas, blueprints of our culture, and paradigms of sterling prose and poetry. Then we nod and snooze.(snip)Great literature and a knowledge of history serve as friends that reassure us that we are neither crazy nor alone. We can anticipate disasters rather than always having to learn through them. We expect paradoxes, given human nature, and so we do not need to weep over what happens to us, as if it is unique and unprecedented.

Mr.Hanson reminds us that there is nothing new under the sun and that we should not forsake our old friends and instructors.


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Reply 1 - Posted by: mythman, 4/29/2013 7:21:49 AM     (No. 9301091)

Wow! Classic Hanson. Thanks OP!

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Reply 2 - Posted by: earlybird, 4/29/2013 7:43:14 AM     (No. 9301129)

This is a doozy! Definitely not for those for whom the headline and intro are more than enough. Do read it. And you´ll find among what Hanson draws from the classics and from literature such great Hanson stuff as this:

Sarcasm, cynicism, skepticism, and nihilism so abound that there must always be a third and fourth meaning. The in-the-know smirk of Jon Stewart or David Letterman and the gobbledygook mush that pours out the mouths of our talking head analysts conspire to make us incapable of saying any of the following: ‘The Tsarnaevs are repulsive and evil. Their mother is unhinged. Fire those who let in these repellent people. Something has gone terribly wrong with the FBI.” Say that and you are guilty of a thought crime greater than the mayhem committed on the street.

Major Hasan kills 13 and wounds 29, yelling out Allahu Akbar as he shoots. In response, the head of the Army joins the Obama Borg (of Brennan, Clapper, Holder, and Napolitano) to lecture us that the greater tragedy in this “workplace violence” would be the loss of the Army’s diversity program. Next thing, the head of NASA might be lecturing us that his foremost aim is reaching out to aggrieved Muslims.

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Reply 3 - Posted by: privateer, 4/29/2013 8:39:13 AM     (No. 9301221)

If you took , as I did, four years of Latin and have always loved history and the classics, this fascinating and erudite essay will be a delight, to savor and re-read. Who can begrudge our heroic patriot the occasional instance of flexing his intellectual muscles and epically stretching out---a veritable Odyssey.

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Reply 4 - Posted by: Catherine, 4/29/2013 9:08:39 AM     (No. 9301285)

Not sure how many classics I´ve read but I´ve had a book in my hand every day of my life since 3rd grade (I´m a grandmother now.) In fact, we are moving again and I just discovered one box of my books, some I´ve had since the age of 11, were ruined by rain, sleet, snow, etc. They were mush. If I hadn´t been standing outside viewing the ruin, I´d have literally cried. Luckily, most survived. I will miss those that didn´t.

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Reply 5 - Posted by: mitzi, 4/29/2013 10:03:07 AM     (No. 9301389)

#3 - The words "Arma virumque cano" popped into my head on Saturday morning while reorganizing the closet! I found a Kindle version of The Aeneid in Latin for $1.99.

I also download the Complete Works of Plato on my Kindle ... for only 99 cents for 2900+ pages. Summer reading.

English major, Classical Studies minor.

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Reply 6 - Posted by: earlybird, 4/29/2013 10:10:55 AM     (No. 9301406)

This essay is not about reading books.

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Reply 7 - Posted by: msjena, 4/29/2013 12:23:09 PM     (No. 9301682)

Brilliant essay. Should be a Must Read.

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Reply 8 - Posted by: Hazymac, 4/29/2013 1:14:40 PM     (No. 9301795)

VDH, as usual, provides plenty of high quality grist for our cerebral mills to process.

Reading this essay I thought about the ending of that classic Akira Kurosawa film from 1954, The Seven Samurai. After the heroic samurai have defeated the bandits and freed the villagers from death and plunder, the three samurai left alive watch as the villagers plant their next crop, unconcerned about the heroes to whom they owe everything. Four of their warrior compatriots lie dead, their herosim unappreciated and about to be forgotten. One says, "Again we are defeated. The winners are those farmers, not us."

Hanson writes, thinking about the American political scene: "It is not that the Athenians cannot grow their economy as in the past, but that they despise those among them who think they still can." The modern political society has created not only helplessness--that was the goal all along, the better to gain control of the masses--but to undermine and extirpate all vestiges of self reliance, to create another "fairer" god; the almighty State.

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