Friday, September 10, 2010

Provincialism

"In our age, when men seem more than ever prone to confuse wisdom with
knowledge, and knowledge with information, and try to solve problems
of life in terms of engineering, there is coming into existence a new
kind of provincialism, not of space, but of time; one for which
history is merely the chronicle of human devices which served their
turn and have been scrapped, one for which the world is the property
solely of the living, a property in which the dead hold no shares. The
menace of this kind of provincialism is, that we can all, all the
people on the globe, be provincials together; and those who are
content to be provincials, can only become hermits. If this kind of
provincialism led to greater tolerance, in the sense of forbearance,
there might be more to be said for it; but it seems more likely to
lead to our becoming indifferent, in matters where we ought to
maintain a distinctive dogma or standard, and to our becoming
intolerant, in matters which might be left to local or personal
preference."

-- T.S. Eliot, "What is a Classic?"(1944)

This passage is quoted by Ryszard Kapuściński in his wonderful book
Travels with Herodotus (Podróże z Herodotem), the English translation
of which was published in 2007.

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