robertogreco + johnadams   3

ArtHistoryGate | Web Exclusives | First Things
"It is perfectly true, furthermore, that—in the President’s words—“you can make a really good living and have a great career without getting a four-year college education.” I recently learned that a cousin of mine, as a unionized operator of a construction machine, easily exceeds my salary. But were he to win the lottery, he would—by his own admission—never see that machine again. Were I to win it, I would pursue art history without interruption. The ability to operate a machine is what John Henry Newman called “Useful Knowledge . . . the possession of truth as powerful.” But “Liberal Knowledge,” which is arguably most perfectly realized in the history of art, “is the apprehension of it as beautiful.”

Faced with the cultural splendor of pre-Revolutionary France, a different President—John Adams—prophesied American art history majors to come:
I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine.

To major in art history is therefore the destiny of a mature nation—a rare and precious possibility literally dependent upon generations of costly sacrifice. To observe how the diffused light of historical events and intellectual forces is refracted by the magnifying glass of art history into the intensified beams of distinct works of art, is of itself useless, and its impracticality is its very splendor. But such liberal pursuits are also, according to Cicero, a condition of our happiness, and a refusal to cultivate such skills invites the revenge of hideous places. Obama and Santorum, consequently, are right to tell machine operators that they need not pursue an art history degree. They can pursue a perfectly honorable career in machinery, so that their children can major in the history of art."

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johnadams  art  arthistory  matthewmilliner  2014  happiness  education  policy  purpose 
february 2014 by robertogreco
More on Postmodernity and the Long Reach of the Past | The American Conservative
"What we call “postmodern” is, then, intrinsic to modernity itself, as a kind of counter-narrative to the dominant modern one. It’s always there, dissenting from the easy story of human progress and human emancipation. A brilliant and far too little-known book on this subject is Stephen Toulmin’s Cosmopolis: the Hidden Agenda of Modernity.

My larger point is simply that ideas live far longer than we usually think they do, and that our ancestors entertained and even embraced many thoughts that we think peculiarly our own. In general, the past is closer to us than we are likely to realize. Consider this — a story I’ve told before but that’s worth remembering: I’ve met a woman who as a teenager met T. S. Eliot; Eliot’s grandmother, Abigail Adams Eliot, whom he knew as a child in St. Louis, was the great-neice of John Adams, second President of the United States, and remembered him from her childhood; when Adams was a young man in Paris, one night at the theatre he saw Voltaire, who was born in the seventeenth century. Six degrees separate me from Voltaire. What we think of as the distant past is not really so distant, and it influences our current thinking more than we know."
postmodernism  history  atemporality  alanjacobs  2013  stephentoulmin  tseliot  voltaire  time  ideas  abigailadams  johnadams  postmodernity 
october 2013 by robertogreco
John Adams - Wikipedia - see also:
"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain." Now at:
education  progress  families  johnadams  glvo  quotes  thinking  society  art  poetry  painting  architecture  generations  inheritance 
december 2006 by robertogreco

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