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Saturday, October 24, 2009

More on Decadence

We cannot of course predict how long, under conditions of deep decadence, the once-great culture of the West can persist. Some say a full century still remains to us, citing as examples the seemingly interminable cultural stasis of Egypt persisting down to Alexander and beyond, or Byzantium’s thousand-year collapse. Others believe we have less time than that, perhaps only a single generation before the last performance of an opera will have been given, the last piece of literary fiction published, and the last good school sacrificed to diversity and a perverted egalitarianism. For those whose tastes run in that direction, we may by then boast ten thousand rock stars, a million celebrities, and marriage will be understood as any legally valid agreement uniting a list of husbands, wives, pets, and clones.
How then should serious people behave in the short time left to us? I have acquaintances who have chosen to stand up against the current debasement, and who seem in some cases actually to believe that a restoration of social health is still possible. That is not the opinion of this person. Decadence is easy, lots of fun, and is especially attractive to prosperous people who have become averse to struggle and concentration. That is why the facile virtues, the ones that can be practiced while sitting on a couch in a darkened room – compassion, empathy, tolerance – have crowded out the hard ones, which is to say integrity, strength, and achievement.
(We’ll definitely return to this theme in our next contribution where we [just me actually] will try to reply to the question cited in the first sentence of the second paragraph inscribed about four and a half inches above.)

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