On The Reading of Old Books

C.S. Lewis writes in the introduction to Athanasius: On the Incarnation.

It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones.

Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books.

As the new year begins I have a long list of books to finish which I intend to intersperse with old books. I’ll likely land closer to the one to three ratio, than one to one.

Who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:

If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

Don't Be Evil

Fred Turner on technological utopianism:

Any utopianism tends to be a totalizing system. It promises a total solution to problems that are always piecemeal. So the problem from my perspective isn’t the technological part of technological utopianism but the utopianism part. … Utopianism, as a whole, is not a helpful approach. Optimism is helpful. But optimism can be partial: it allows room for distress and dismay, it allows room for difference. It’s not, as they used to say in the 1960s, all one all the time.

Technology will not solve all the worlds problems – not social media, not bitcoin – but it will be a component of thoughtful positive change.

The American Dream

Martin Luther King, Jr. at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia, on 4 July 1965:

The whole concept of the imago dei, as it is expressed in Latin, the “image of God,” is the idea that all men have something within them that God injected. Not that they have substantial unity with God, but that every man has a capacity to have fellowship with God. And this gives him a uniqueness, it gives him worth, it gives him dignity. And we must never forget this as a nation: there are no gradations in the image of God. Every man from a treble white to a bass black is significant on God’s keyboard, precisely because every man is made in the image of God. One day we will learn that. We will know one day that God made us to live together as brothers and to respect the dignity and worth of every man.

A timely reminder.

How The Way We Think About the World Failed

Umair Haque:

In return for a life of insecurity, they have given him more material things. But trading material things for basic rights, dignity, possibility, freedom, justice, truth inevitably results in feelings like anxiety, despair, rage, and shame, which are the discontents of a broken age.

An interesting read, but I doubt many serious intellectuals really think material possessions alone bring happiness. I hope I’m not kidding myself.

(Via Azeem Azhar)