Wolfram Alpha WolframAlpha is a unique, computational search engine. The Search results are data driven, which makes it especially uses for searching socioeconomic data, geographic and demographic data, economic data, and other topics. SweetSearch SweetSearch is a search engine for students. It searches far fewer web sites than Google, but only lists websites that have been reviewed by its team of educators. It also provides social media tools that enable you to send your results to others.
Great tool for seeing what web pages contained months, or years ago. It is a great tool if you want control over which websites will be included in the search results. Requires a Google account.
Google News Google News gathers news stories from 4, sources and organizes them into eight categories: Top Stories, World, U. But what sets Google News apart from other online news sources is that you can customize Google News and create your own categories. You can also have Google email you news updates, called Google Alerts. Alerts will notify you — daily or less frequently — when information matching your keywords is found.
With Google News and News Alerts the trick is to select your keywords carefully so that they are neither too broad nor two narrow in scope. Historvius Historvius is a map search engine to historical sites aimed at travelers. Public Domain Images list To help you avoid infringing on copyright protection, EdTechTeacher has prepared an extensive list of Internet sources for public domain images, with an eye towards the humanities. Please check individual images you find at these sites to determine if there are any restrictions on usage.
Diigo Diigo is a great web-based platform for saving, annotating, and sharing bookmarks. Students, teachers, departments, and even institutions can collect, share, and publish their online resources.
Students can start creating right away without creating an account and can work on the same mindmap from anywhere with an Internet connection. Mindmaps can be printed and saved with a free account. Projects can be shared and edited by other users. Google Docs Create documents, presentations, spreadsheets, polls, surveys, or drawings for free and share with others. Organize documents into folders, publish to the web, and collaborate with other users. Special feature is ability to work on a document in real-time with anyone, anywhere.
An RSS feed is a source of information that is regularly updated, such as a blog or news site. By subscribing to RSS feeds, you can get that stream of information delivered to you. Google Reader is a simple and easy way to collect and read RSS feeds. Google Reader enables you to make your own personalized page tailored to your interests.
From within Google Reader, you can choose from millions of live Internet content feeds—including articles, blogs, images, and au- dio. Live Binders4Teachers LiveBinders is an interactive resource for teachers to quickly research websites related to topics they are teaching that otherwise would take them much longer using Google or other search engines.
A LiveBinder is a compilation tool made up of several websites related to one specific topic of the LiveBinder. For example, under the category of History LiveBinders, there is one based on the Battle of Guadalcanal. Within the binder, there are roughly ten websites relating to and describing the battle from different perspectives.
Although it is much faster than navigating a topic on a search engine, LiveBinder still retains many of the drawbacks of searching for a topic online. While many websites go through a filter before they are added, the reliance of some of the websites can waver depending on who posts them.
As long as this recognition is understood, LiveBinder is a generally good resource for teachers to use in their lesson plans and assignments. TrackStar TrackStar is a starting point for online lessons and activities for multiple disciplines. Search the database by subject, grade, or theme and standard for a quick and easy activity.
Jog the Web Jog the Web is a web-based tool that allows anyone to create a synchronous guide to a series of web sites. Its a step-by-step approach of taking viewers through web sites allowing the author to annotate and ask guiding questions for each page is unique.
Library of Congress An outstanding and invaluable site for American history and general studies. Contains primary and secondary documents, exhibits, map collections, prints and photographs, sound recordings, and motion pictures. The Library of Congress: Teachers The new Library of Congress Teachers page provides tools and resources for using Library of Congress primary source documents in the classroom and include excellent lesson plans, document analysis tools, online and offline activities, timelines, presentations and professional development resources.
The Library of Congress American Memory in particular is an outstanding resource for American history and general studies. Included are multimedia collections of photographs, recorded sound, moving pictures, and digitized text. Use the Teachers section to explore primary set collections and themed resources. Teachers can get updates on new tools, professional development opportunities, and Library programs, events and services.
In addition to its paper holdings which would circle the Earth 57 times it has more than 3. Users can research people, places, events and other popular topics of interest, as well as ancestry and military records. The Internet History Sourcebooks The Internet History Sourcebooks are wonderful collections of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts for educational use by Paul Halsall. Maintenance of the Sourcebooks is uneven, so expect some broken links. History of the United Kingdom — Primary Documents These links connect to Western European mainly primary historical documents and shed light on key historical happenings.
The sources on the United Kingdom cover various chronological periods, such as to and to Project Gutenberg Project Gutenberg is a major source of free historical electronic texts that can be searched by author or title. Content is free in the United States because its copyright has expired. Middle East Global Connections: Putting World Events in Context provides the background information needed to understand events occurring in the Middle East.
Designed with educators in mind, the site is also useful for those curious to better understand the Middle East and its relationship with the West. Etext Center Founded in , the Electronic Text Center at the University of Virginia Library offered access to a plethora of primary and secondary source documents and media for teaching and research in the humanities.
Library and Archival Exhibitions on the Web The Smithsonian offers this useful gateway to libraries and exhibits on the Web. Include over links to online exhibitions from libraries, archives, and museums around the world. Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy A great research site from Yale University rich with primary source documents relating to world history. Searchable database is organized into three periods: Primary Source World Primary Source resources for the Global Classroom features teacher-created, classroom-ready activities designed around key primary sources, including written documents, artifacts, audio clips, visual evidence and much more.
Each cluster of sources includes key questions, objectives, and a background essay. Many Pasts The Center for History and New Media produces historical works in new media, tests their effectiveness in the classroom, and reflects critically on the success of new media in historical practice.
Go to the Many Pasts section for primary documents in text, image, and audio about ordinary Americans throughout U. Documenting the American South Documenting the American South DAS is an impressive collection of sources by the University of North Carolina on Southern history, literature and culture from the colonial period through the first decades of the 20th century.
DAS supplies teachers, students, and researchers with a wide range of titles they can use for reference, studying, teaching, and research. Currently, DAS includes ten thematic collections of primary sources for the study of southern history, literature, and culture including Oral Histories of the American South, True and Candid Compositions: Fortunately it has a search feature; there is an amazing amount of material here. In the First Person First Person is a free, in-depth index of close to 4, collections of personal narratives in English from around the world.
It lets you keyword search more than , pages of full-text by more than 18, individuals. It also contains pointers to some 4, audio and video files and 30, bibliographic records. Resources for Teaching American History Several groups of teachers conducted research at the Smithsonian and contributed primary source activities for this website.
These are engaging, quality teaching resources worth exploring. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Start with the Metropolitan Museum of Art Timeline of Art History, a chronological, geographical, and thematic exploration of the history of art from around the world. The timelines, accompanied by world, regional, and sub-regional maps, provide a linear outline of art history, and allow visitors to compare and contrast art from around the globe at any time in history. There is plenty more here apart from the Timeline: The Third Millennium B.
Turning the Pages Turning the Pages is an award-winning interactive display system developed by The British Library to increase public access and enjoyment of some of its most valuable treasures.
There are currently fifteen treasures on display in Turning the Pages including: Stories link to organized primary and secondary source materials found principally at U.
The purpose of the site including its separate, stand-alone channels is to take visitors on a virtual guided tour of relevant on-line source materials. Be sure to check out Click2History. This impressive site features reviewed links to top sites, professionally developed lesson plans based on primary sources, classroom activities, materials to help with daily classroom planning, and search engines.
You can search lesson plans by subcategory and grade level; middle school lessons are the most numerous. The resources cover a wide range of historical periods and are arranged in chronological periods. The lessons are mostly source based case studies centered on key questions.
PBS Online A great source for information on a myriad of historical events and personalities. Many lessons incorporate primary sources. Some lessons require viewing PBS video, but many do not. Social Explorer Reports and interactive maps on census data from to Interactive maps allow you to choose a time period and demographic feature to look at.
You can zoom in on any area or request a corresponding report on the specific information you request. Free maps are mainly of population, race, and religion, but a premium subscription allows access to many more maps. United States Historical Census Data Browser Provides data from census records and other government sources for Users can view extensive population- and economic-oriented statistical information at state and county levels, arranged according to a variety of categories.
Also includes an essay on the history of the census. Primary Access Primary Access allows students to use primary source documents, pictures, videos, and recordings to create multimedia presentations about a specific topic in history. It uses a general layout that consists of video recordings, outlines of ideas, timelines of history that include dated pictures and archives and much more.
While the information may seem limited at times, it provides a good layout for students to begin formulating a general idea of what they want to focus on. The Price of Freedom: Americans at War This Smithsonian website skillfully integrates Flash video and text to examine armed conflicts involving the U. Each conflict contains a brief video clip, statistical information, and a set of artifacts. The New American Roles present section contains an introductory movie and short essay on the conflict as well as historic images and artifacts.
The Doing History feature lets users reconstruct the past through the voices of children, gravestones, advertising, and other primary sources.
Reference resources include classroom handouts, chronologies, encyclopedia articles, glossaries, and an audio-visual archive including speeches, book talks and e-lectures by historians, and historical maps, music, newspaper articles, and images. There are links to other sites: You can also find out about journals and discussion lists connected with British empire or Commonwealth studies.
Center for Reformation and Renaissance Studies Hosted by the University of Toronto, the CRRC is a research centre with a library devoted to the study of the period from approximately to Its web site contains links to sites useful for researchers working in the Renaissance and the Reformation, as well as other periods.
It offers FICINO, an international electronic seminar and bulletin board for the circulation and exchange of information about the Renaissance and Reformation. There are also exhibitions from its Rare Book collections, such as Music in Medieval and Early Modern Europe and Textual Conversations — interactions between Renaissance authors, printers, readers, and texts.
Perseus Project Perseus Project is an impressive digital library for Greek and Classical resources from the Classics Department at Tufts University for primary and secondary source scholarly works that cover the history, literature and culture of the Greco-Roman world. The collection contains extensive and diverse resources including primary and secondary texts, site plans, digital images, and maps.
Works are listed by author and you can browse the Greco-Roman Collection or use the search engine. It uses less stick and more carrot than the other two visions which makes it somewhat deceptive. Dermot, thank you for this! Have you noticed that none of the feminists who call for equal pay for equal work are willing to see the women who do their nails and their hair, clean their houses, and take care of their children, paid a salary equal to their own middle class income?
Gkb, your first point is what I was talking about when I said that every canon is contested. As for Charlotte Smith et al. In terms of the canon, the basic set of books most people read, discuss, and study during their schooling, Jane Austen makes a fine introduction to that end of English literature, and we can go from there to Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell, and so forth.
I suppose novels are the last years? There were plenty of written tales and literature before that of course. I guess we could return the compliment? He mentions the beginnings of English language poetry, and The Seafarer Anglo Saxon which he had translated. My popcorn at the most difficult time in my life some decades was PG Woodhouse.
Minds from another time and heritage are in Chinese Poems translated by Arthur Waley. There is a lot of Waley I guess, but Li Po and company dating back a very long way are terrific company to carry one from youth to old age.
He also taught the Victorian Monstrosity course….. Reading Beowulf in Old English is a worth while exercise in itself because Old English is an inflected language like Latin. And that even adding inflection into language forces one to chane how they think. I tired the sharp object under the TV bit on ecsophia.
His advice and practice is to apply the filter of time to reading material and other things like ideas. Any book that has survived for years will be around for another hundred, while something has has only 5 years history is unlikely to make it to I can imagine Sex and the City entering American canon, if future generations are that literate.
The format is as much essay as prose fiction. They were the stories I enjoyed most, maybe because they genuinely were a window into another world and time. After the age of about 10 I once or twice tried reading contemporary books written especially for kids, but I found them flat, boring and badly written by comparison.
Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe, H. On a different note: Greetings Frank from Germany. But also, not forgotten, not sneered at, and not tossed in the dumpster. Exactly how big a cannon as you propose should be? I recall in my highschool days.
The classes were fifty-ish in size, and there were more than enough books to choose. The problem is that, starting from month 2, half of the session would be expended in having a handful of students summarize what they had read for the rest of the class. It was still one of the best classes I had in my formative years.
On the one hand that added wider audiences and brought more readers into the communities. As usual, a thought-provoking essay. More on-topic, I have been trying to expand my literary experiences to other cultures and will continue to do so, although I have to make do with translations for the most part.
JMG and eveyone else. What are the main works in the various sub cultural cannons? Last week I asked Jen what are the main social justice works and got a good list. M Reading this and the last few post what strikes me is how I really wish I had been educated in this old method. It just seems so much better. Also for anyone what edition of Euclid is the best for a beginner?
JMG, this sounds very familiar. I should have made clear that I was presupposing what you also wrote: The books I mentioned are those that I would try to get students to love if in some weird future I had any influence on school curricula! Actually, if needs were, I would be happy to copy parts of Virgil and Dante by hand not that many people would want to read my handwriting…: Actually, the booby trap you wrote about last week sounds quite plausible. Finally, I am a bit bemused.
At first I thought the topic was kind of dry. However, it got me thinking and led me to this: And the cool thing is the list of books links to on-line free versions of most — if not all — of the books, as they are classics old enough to be in the public domain. You either love Wodehouse, or you wonder what on earth people find amusing in his plot he re-used the same one in all his books , but I think he still belongs in the canon because of his masterful use of the language.
But it is a heck of a good seasoning for a bowl of popcorn — If only I could eat the popcorn. There are some other good ones in the Lovecraftiana Magazine as well. Dewey, of course you have every right to choose what you want to read, and if you have better things to read than Daesh propaganda, by all means! Phil, modern European novels are the last years.
Frank, delighted to hear it! By the way, I got three copies of this post, and only put one of them through.
Again, a canon is a set of books that most people read, discuss, and think about during their schooling. There have been very good movies made from books; these were not among them. Will, I learned Euclid via one of the old, stuffy translations — a newer and clearer one would be helpful. Matthias, fair enough; from that perspective, what you wrote earlier makes a great deal of sense.
The male equivalent is more often found in other venues, and is packed with equally absurd caricatures of women. These things sell literally millions of copies, and since reading guides the mind where visual media by and large simply shuts it down, I suspect the reading material has a disproportionate impact. Thank you for this. It looks like a good issue. A New Dark Age — how could I resist?
I work in the AI space. Judea Pearl, one of the pioneers of the field, recently came out as a huge critic:. The state of the art currently amounts to being able to find hidden patterns in huge amounts of data, which is basically large scale curve fitting. In other words, given sufficiently large amounts of data, and a rule a.
All of this is enabled by easily available and cheap computational power. What a computer cannot do is to determine whether the answer is meaningful or relevant, or how to infer new questions or rules. Pearl thinks that the field is stuck in a rut because everyone just wants to keep doing curve fitting.
This is, of course, reminiscent of previous ages where intellectuals thought we can solve everything by Logic, or Science, or whatever. I see way more intelligence in infants, or even puppies, than from any advanced computational machines that require lots of electricity to run so far. We have to equip machines with a model of the environment. Is this not basically what a canon is, a model of the intellectual and cultural environment?
And without it, you cannot expect humans to behave intelligently? Someone mentioned Ursula LeGuin. So I understand both sides of the Great Wodehouse Divide. The acoustic medium, being incapable of visualization, did not achieve recognition as a phenomenon wholly separable from the person who used it.
But in the alphabetized document the medium became objectified. And the audience, being unable to think philosophically due to lack of written language would have to choose one orator over another based on the various nonverbal communicative cues and framing devices you mentioned last week. It seems like such a bizarre idea. I made that a habit in my reading on the net years ago, realizing that I was in the process of enclosing my mind in an echo-chamber of my own making.
They often hit on points one hardly sees just by trying to be critical of oneselfes thinking. As far as real literature is concerned: Should be easy to find in used bookshops alongside old copies of encyclopedias and can be had cheaper than shelling out for separate copies of the books you are interested in. And there is the option of expanding your reading with books you would not normally pick up.
Full disclosure, I still have to pick up the Hesse I committed to reading as the result of an earlier ecosophia essay…. What I found rather frustrating about the program was the way it tended to emphasize books with popular film or television adaptations. Their list of books was supposedly generated based on a survey of some sort, and, though there are quite a few older works on it, they gave a lot more screen time to books that have had more…screen time.
Works with recent adaptations, such as Harry Potter, got several minutes worth of fans or celebrities gushing about them. Works that are more difficult, such as Crime and Punishment, were given just a brief mention. On a lighter note, anyone have any idea how I can convince my husband to read Pride and Prejudice? I need a guy who can explain its merits in a language he can understand.
Lord of the Rings, Dune, and the Kingkiller Chronicles have made my list. I feel I may have been a member of the last generation in a long time to benefit from a canon. I would never have finished without a bribe in the form of a good mark waiting for me at the end, butI benefited a lot from this book which runs so counter to my own taste. In some ways this might be a good thing — the walled gardens of today may allow new and strange thoughts that could never have arisen had they needed to survive in the wild half-formed.
When it comes to reading and heavy fair, I have very very slow digestion. Its usually several months before I am very interested in a book that is more than fluff again. I say that as I think of how little I have read which I would think of as being proper to a canon, and mostly of the philosophical sub category. JMG and I had an asside in a recent dreamwidt post about the history of English Speaking Philosophers; and the fact that the English language has not be the most gifted with philosophers.
That being said, I have been chewing on the philosophical portion of a canon and have come to the following thoughts. Round out this with the Origin of Species and a good sampling of Emerson.
What I suggested would go beyond a common canon, for for those interested in the achievements of thinking in English, this would be some of the best cases I can think of. These are not obviously the best there is, but this grouping covers what are to my values the most important developments in thinking to come from the English language.
The battery of canons which all include The Bible, Homer, and Plato covers in time and space a major chunk of European history and the colonies there of. Able to read as in recognize what sounds fit with most words, but not actually able to read decent literature.
Does the canon work second hand? How would that fit with literature where much of the population is effectively done by 8th grade, as I think a large minority of people have every right to be. Yet I know the story down to fairly fine details, because I have heard the saga told on many occasions by friends. Your knowledge and insights have freed me of many mental burdens since when I began reading your essays. I would recommend to the readers of this blog just two names concerning canon.
First is Mortimer Adler with his lifetime reading plan and Paideia Proposal. It would be good to use their ideas as inspiration to make your own personal canon and reading plan.
How many will have shared in the experience of seeing the Hustler, or Steppenwolf however? Print is essentially dead. Education has fallen off a cliff, and the sub-cultures you refer to are the people who are still reading paper books while munching on popcorn. JMG, great post as always.
Also, I may have to move up 50 Shades into my reading list, as offensive popcorn can be a learning experience. Movies and TV seem to have replaced reading, but still seem to be a cultural common point that everyone, left and right, understands and chatters on about.
The other day I was walking across the pedantically manicured lawn of the university where I study to the library. As I walked it occurred to me how, I have to assume deliberately, segregated the various departments are. The soft sciences are ensconced in two buildings on the far western edge of campus. The hard sciences have their own neighborhood on the northeast end. Of course, since nobody can stand them, the business school is kept well away from everybody else most pointedly away from the economics department.
Only slightly less reviled, so also deliberately kept at arms length, is the Comparative Literature department—its ghetto is in the old part of the university.
Of course, department could be a respected and noble one if any of their professors or grad students went about their stated goal of comparing disparate literary cannons. Instead, they devote their time to policing the sexual and aesthetic tastes of the rest of the university.
In other words, this university, with its literal billions in resources, proposes to be a collection of minds and schools working toward the curation and production of knowledge.
In reality, especially amongst the Arts and Sciences, what it actually is is a collection of various departments—each with their own cannon—talking past one another. But, bring up Adam Smith, or Hobbes, these are acceptable thinkers as they were proto-scientists or some other nonsense. For the whole kit and caboodle it was something like 50 bucks. Having a vague idea of what a deal that was, I settled with the manager for 35 and some wrapping paper.
I lugged the suckers all the way to the bus station and back home to Missouri. Naturally, the collection has been rightly criticized as being very white and male. I also question why Coleridge gets an entire volume but Wollstonecraft is only mentioned in passing.
Nonetheless, without those books, and the classical liberal foundation I received, sometimes under duress, from the Jesuits I suspect my interior life would be very dull indeed.
If only the challenge were the lack of a canon. I also liked the way they gave every culture their distinktive overall look. The faces of the the characters are probably never going to be what one imagined while reading the book, but of course that is a weakness shared by all films based on books. But I guess this only applies to reading only one channel, or direction only reading propaganda from the far right, for example.
If someone finds far right propaganda offensive and keeps reading it, they may end up imitating it. Therefore the imitating effect is cancelled out. That in turn means that there is always a battle to keep on top of all the different viewpoints floating around in a society at a given time. Increasing complexity seems to create even more complexity. Most people are so bright.
Most people are so keen. Of course, the way as described is not the way. The problem is, the only way to decide whether something was worth reading is actually to read it. And the cycle continues… in the end, I suppose this is the problem that a canon is supposed to help solve. When I was round 12, I was pretending to be a Nazi and a militarist, wanting to become a general, just to provoke my leftist parents. That time we used to have a wonderful, long champagne breakfast the term brunch was not yet invented every Saturday….
Jane Austen did write 5 other novels. Perhaps he might like Mansfield Park, which is not at all a comedy of manners, but a study in corruption with a tacked on happy ending—required at the time for lady novelists—but not IMHO convincing. Greer, might you want to solicit nominations for cannon inclusion from your readers? Mine would include important works of history. Others here could share a list of books which might help us liberal arts types be scientifically literate.
It is interesting that this conversation is so largely centering on fiction. Granted, you mentioned Euclid, but the idea of canon seems to largely concern shared narratives. Like the multi-faceted, instructive fairy tales in hunter-gatherer societies. Perhaps this is just a sign of the times with the scientific-reductionist zeitgeist, but the serious readers I know and there are very few of them mostly read non-fiction.
I imagine this is because non-fiction gives tangible powers. It is painful to note this, but I believe that it is very likely widespread literacy going extinct in the United States.
This helps explain as well why Americans are so loathe to learn other languages. People care about the results, not the process. Sure, their will be a literati, but I imagine that will be in essence little different than the literati of a colonized territory.
One could argue that these conditions already prevail today, just with the addition of wildly distributed and enormously complex communication technology in the mix. It is my perspective that the written word is rather more than merely an instrument to gain power over nature; I believe it is a gift of the gods and a means of communion on many levels.
My thoughts can perhaps be best summed up by Israel Regardie, who writes in The Tree of Life [, p. Workdove, I agree very much with what you wrote. Relatedly, recently I read that in Massachusetts around one half of state and community college students struggle to eat consistently and stay housed.
It would appear that the collapse is picking up speed all around. Ray Wharton expressed his worries about the size and level of difficulty of the canon if it is to reach all social classes. Still, for some reason whatever, it was not on our curricula in the early 90s, not even for people who planned to study literature at university, and so my friends and I read it for ourselves in order to re-enact the Walpurgis night scene, costumes and all, on the Brocken mountain on the Eves of May 1st that had a certain zing of newness because the wall had come down only a few years earlier.
My best friend at the time then told me that his mother had read Faust in school. She had gone through the obligatory eight years of common school in the 50s and 60s, in then-Communist Eastern Germany for good measure, and went on to learn the trade of grocery store saleswoman.
In the times before pre-packaged goods and electronic machines, that was a trade to be learned. So in fact this future grocery clerk and all her class mates had read Faust from beginning to end, and my friend told me his mother still remembered quite a bit of the plot and expressions, and was capable of discussing the meaning and importance.
I make a point of watching the occasional chick flick films, and of reading some romance novels: I only heard about it second hand, and I heard plenty of contradictory stories, but what everyone agreed on was she wrote something, and one of the males in the group refused to perform what she wrote, and nearly every other male there supported him. He insisted no man would behave the way she wanted him to, that it was offensive, and that was why he refused to play the part.
I have no other evidence of it, but it seems plausible. The other interesting thing is that women seem more open to criticism of the way the movies portray men compared to how the books portray us. All audio recordings are freely downloadable. Last spring, when I was laid up with sciatica, I spent months reading material that I, as a life-long Democrat, would not ordinarily have read.
My list of favorite authors who died before I was born: Nah, if you leave it up to the forces of power, chance, and money you just ensure greater losses.
That is why we do not have more Elizabethan era authors to compare with Shakespeare: I think it ought to be felt as a duty by future scholars to remember that each pinnacle work is the mere tip of a long-ago melted iceberg, and to hoard secret lists for apprentices to view only when they have proven their worth.
If the Discourses on Iron and Salt are any guide, the scholars will have need of hidden resources to meet the exigencies of being ousted from imperial favor by shrewd, calculating capitalists, border-expanding opportunists, and other furry fauna. It is quite eerie, reading about 81 BCE as characters come before you that could be stand-ins for those in present day events. In some ways I think your absolutely right that the lack of a canon contributes to our political divide.
If you want to better understand SJWs you would want to identify the books that shaped their view of the world and go read them. A lot of people are listing off great thinkers they admire and I just want to suggest one of my own favorites: That said if there was just one 20th century philosopher I wish everyone would read it would probably be Alasdair MacIntyre.
Obviously not Fifty Shades of Gray or The Enemy Conquered, but sometimes light entertainment can be fodder for pretty deep discussions. For instance, the movie Avatar was obviously intended to get viewers thinking about the environment, our dependence on oil, and our relationship to nature. And for my brother and I it actually succeeded and led to some pretty interesting conversations, even though we both think Avatar is a terrible movie.
By the way the problem with your blog is you get my mind buzzing in too many directions at once, so when I try to comment I end up writing something like this: Someone mentioned their concern about people who lack interest in reading. It made me think about the delusional ways libraries try to get people to read more. My library system, like most others, has a summer reading program.
I personally find it demeaning to think that you have to dangle cheap plastic prizes in front of me to motivate me to read. But professionals find it unthinkable to abandon this sacred cow within libraries.
Children and adults who read a certain small number of hours get rewarded with prizes. He highlighted certain studies showing that even if dangling rewards in front of people say, to motivate them to read works in the short-term, in the long-term when there is absence of rewards it may have an adverse effect on the intended goal. Greer — I have a thought. Have you ever thought of yourself a Burkean Progressive? But one of your underlying philosophies is using the lessons of the past to guide our journey into the future — That sounds pretty progressive to me.
I might have said something similar in the ADR comment section but remembering past blog lives is hard. You said both sides would lock you up in a heartbeat.
Ray Wharton — I think Star Wars episodes will find their way into cannon in the long haul. Charles Allen, who organised training in the shipyards of WW1 and wrote The Instructor, the Man and the Job noted that trade schools often use more progressive methods than a lot of academic institutions in the sense progressive is usually used in an educational context — more respect for the individual, more student-centred, more democratic ethos.
Henry Ford famously complained how hard it was to get self-assured craftsmen to do what they were told. As someone who studied philosophy and worked both in a think tank and as a motorbike mechanic, he makes a persuasive case. You can after all become self-taught in the liberal arts in your free time much easier than you can teach yourself a trade, so it could be argued it makes sense to concentrate formal education there.
But yes, we all take inspiration from many sources in developing our personal reading list. Mine is stacked literally 2 feet high on my nightstand: He also talks about society being made of multiple hierarchies, every level of which is being constantly replenished. His view is the same as many critics of that narrative: Plenty to push back on there as he does tend over-generalise his arguments, but as said the presentation in above comments is highly unfair.
I was inspired to post for two reasons. We are doomed if we continue on this way. I was horrified, but learned a valuable lesson in life. He is the most intelligent, loving, kind person I have ever met, can do absolutely anything.
Your Yoyo, I beg to differ with you on the primacy of meaning of word over delivery of speaker, and propose a modest test: Pick your favored political character-Pres. Obama, or another-of the last couple decades. Might as well be one you genuinely enjoy, or enjoy hating, rather than one who gives you the cold grues. Find a speech in both video and transcript.
Watch the video, then read the transcript. What do you observe? My observation is that video as primary medium of consumption of political speeches has neatly returned us to the pre-print days of speech making. Delivery is all, the verbal content can be matched by the average three-year-old! In regards to the matter of literary canon, I think Stranger in a Strange Land will eventually be dropped. I think the current canons are determined by the circle one runs in. Everybody has read certain books if they home school, and we hand them quickly to new home schoolers.
Gatto, Wise Bauer, Mason, Sayers. I see the ongoing book club here as a very similar thing, a canon of magic. This essay may help your husband read Jane Austen: Heinrich, an excellent point.
One of the great benefits of reading things that offend you is that it helps avoid the kind of simplistic stereotypes of the Other that people on both sides of the political divide tend to cling to. Anomalies, I wonder if the whole thing is just a marketing gimmick. I found the first volume of The Kingkiller Chronicles all but unreadable — I made it only a short way in before setting it down permanently — which is of course the sort of variation one expects between readers!
Workdove, people keep insisting that print is dead. Printed books keep selling. My books sell substantially more copies in paper forms than in e-book formats. Drhooves, many, many people have always been functionally illiterate. Patricia O, yes, but that only fulfills one of the functions of a canon, that of producing a familiar basis for chatter…. In the best of all worlds, you start with a solid education that introduces you to a meaningful canon, and also to basic intellectual tools such as logic; you then read a wide range of writings from different viewpoints, so no one of them dominates your thinking; you then think about things yourself and make your decisions about the issues that matter to you.
I suppose it was inevitable that the rot would spread…. It really does cut both ways. Since your opinion is merely that — your opinion — and nobody else is obliged to follow it, any more than anyone is obliged to follow mine, why, this is simply another example of the way that a canon is contested. My view of history is cyclical, not linear, and I see change as a matter of repeating familiar patterns in new forms. Tude, I hear the same thing from pretty much everyone I know who works in the academic industry.
Thank you ever so much. That is exactly what I was looking for. Cannon and canon are occasionally confused by writers, but the two words have independent origins, and do not share a meaning. When canon is spelled cannon I always get a mental image of a cannon in the act of firing, and this does not aid understanding, even if it is sometimes hilarious.
I suppose one could fire a canon from a cannon, though. I suspect that there are a number if reasons for dislike of reading. First would be any neurological or physical problem that makes it more difficult than average. For example, my nephew had a problem with his eyes that made tracking across the page difficult. It was corrected, but he had already acquired a dislike of reading because it was associated in his mind with failure and disgrace.
Eventually his older brother tutored him and he was able to read well enough to pass the contactors exam. Dyslexia and so for the would be other examples.
Second, some children, boys especially, are not ready to read at 5 or younger. By 7 or 8 they are ready, but reading has now been something that made them feel like failures for 2 years, so they never develop a liking for it. Oh, yes, entirely my own opinion. I do not expect anyone, least of all you as host, to feel compelled to act based on my wishes. I merely express my ideals, since I am too lazy at the moment to work up the notion into a story. That is another stereotype pushed by the liberal side to justify their contention that Hillary should have been president.
Nobody seemed to be really fond of it, though I found relevant information there. After that discussion, I read the conclusions of the book and found the following personal statement by the author:. Current values, such as liberalism, secularism, toleration, a sense of irony, an interest in the viewpoints of others, however skin-deep in our own society, were simply absent then, or at best only vestigially present, as indeed they have been absent from most of the societies of the past….
I have amused myself while writing this book by trying to identify which, if any, late antique or early medieval writers that is, those whose personality we can recapture, at any rate in part, with least mediation I could imagine meeting with any real pleasure.
It comes down to remarkably few: Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Gregory the Great, Einhard, maybe Braulio of Zaragoza and, with less enthusiasm, Augustine, for his remarkable intelligence and self-awareness, however not for his tolerance. I would certainly feel an enormous honor and satisfaction to speak with people like Columban, Boethius, with the anonymous author of Beowulf, with, yes, Augustine of Hippo, Ambrosius, Origen, Gregory of Nazanz, John Philoponus, al-Khwarizmi and many others.
I agree, as JMG responds to you, that if my assessment of Peterson is inaccurate, then his response to me is also less than accurate. I suppose I owe Peterson an apology. This link sends the viewer directly to the relevant portion: All these links consist of no commentary or distortion by others, but simply Peterson talking into the camera. Good and Evil Y. Your Mileage May Vary , but what I hear in that last interview is a tremendous amount of Manichean dualism a.
While he certainly is closer to the opposite end of the spectrum on hierarchy from the SJWs, his position is not the opposite of theirs. Elements within the alt right — traditionalists, monarchists, neo-Nazis etc — are where you find the precise mirror image of the SJW on hierarchy. He does not at all view equal pay for women as evil. The wage gap debate has degenerated into nonsense so the devil is in the definition of equal pay here.
An airline was required to publish staff average earnings broken down by gender. People who try to point out that part of the explanation might have something to do with the fact that most men employed by the airline are pilots while most women are stewardesses, that more of the women work part time and more of the men overtime, and that the cause of such differences might not be entirely The Patriarchy, are accused of opposing equal pay for women. The overwhelming majority of his advice is theurgy.
He says his motivation to speak up at that point was that he had begun to see therapy clients who were being bullied at work by SJW crybullies and he viewed that trend as the insidious beginnings of the type of totalitarianism that he spent much of his career studying so decided he had a responsibility to speak out.
The way it works is not that different to when you were witch-hunted for darkly suspicious mutterings about Spengler. If you had happened to trigger the world of trans activism instead you could easily have found yourself in his shoes regardless of your intentions. But I think he and others like him are signs that the Second Religiosity is coming. He also brings together psychology and religion without reducing the latter to a mere precursor to psychology.
His politics are only a small part of what he actually does but they get disproportionate attention in the current insane climate. My personal opinion would demand the inclusion of Walden and The Odyssey in any canon I had a hand in creating. But what title will it be? That part makes me wonder. I bought a youth version of the Odyssey for the purpose of reading aloud to my children. My own father read aloud The Lord of the Rings books to me as a child.
Will they be missing out? Did I miss out? I confess I never went back and read Tolkien for myself, especially since the movies came out! But I do have a vague sense that my recollection of the tale is rather flat, especially when I hear you and other commenters on this blog wax nostalgic about it from time to time. My librarian wife particularly enjoyed this piece. In fact, I downright despise some of them.
Fortunately, she and I have spent considerable effort and some money trying to build a family library of literary classics for posterity. Greer section is probably larger than most! I think of The Bible or Shakespeare to use another example are useful to read because they are referenced so often in not only writing, but also just in passing speech. Maybe I should pick up a copy and take a look.
I guess maybe I should have expanded on that a bit, as now there any many well-educated people who, if not functionality illiterate, are functionality illogical. Just this past week I ran into a buzzsaw of protest over some fiction I was discussing, and while one would hope that all things are possible and allowed in that category, apparently my work was not PC. If relying on a canon to be introduced in the education system makes sense , my first impression is that the timeline of several decades appears aggressive.
Anomalies if I may , my wife heartily agrees with you about Wuthering Heights! Those who interest me are by and large those who, as I do, get roughly equal amounts of flak from the left and the right. I did actually enjoy the book, though, in a popcorn way. I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed: And on the pedestal these words appear: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away. People might not have been so easily duped into worshipping at the altar of Progress if that had remained part of the canon, methinks! Did my last comment disappear or did you delete it? Coming from a country where we have both an oral tradition and written tradition, I have to say the canon exists in both.
I took it out of the library, read it, and promptly forgot it. I read it again, having forgotten that I had previously read it. I reread War and Peace from time to time. A link to a time and place and family. I also reread The Long Goodbye again and again. I never read Buddenbrooks: I found the Magic Mountain plodding enough. Speaking of plodding and tendentious, I tried to read Mein Kampf in your challenge to read something by a person one detested several years ago…….
I gave up after about pages. Also the biography of Alfred the Great — did you know he was also an inventor? The hour candle first, then the candle lantern.
I guess I get it. If one lives in a hip, liberal, urban setting, and mostly spends their social hours hurling insults across the yawning chasm that separates the two worlds, one might come to believe that theirs is the real world, and the other a mere characiture of a happily bygone era. These people are business owners, teachers, computer programmers, run the local jiu jitsu dojo, live off-grid in tiny houses, read and enjoy the classics, and can discuss them intelligently.
Quequeg this and Quequeg that…drives me crazy. Blue Sun, nobody is too young for the big stories! Some years later I read it alone. I also had a Bible. It does not mean that we should invent the canon from the scratch. Classwork is structured for one-time or even fractional reading; discussion happens mostly in book clubs. This raises a follow-up question: The criticism he gets seems disproportionate for a few reasons. But in his lectures on the psychological roots of totalitarianism he does treat left and right equally.
He spends as much time on Hitler as on Stalin. They hate him for opposing them on the Jewish question and white identity politics and for espousing basically civic nationalism. They view people like him as controlled opposition. So the impression you would get from most sources about unbalanced criticism is partly accurate but also skewed for political reasons. Great stuff and an excellent suggestion!
Culture wars are a drama and have real world impacts. I often wonder about the claim made down here by some politicians that the car industry down could not be supported by the government and tax payers money when it employed something like a quarter of a million people, and yet at the same time I see tax free treatment for some already wealthy segments of the population at a cost that is between five and fifty times more than the car industry ever took.
I enjoy working with my hands and physically producing something, but that is considered a low status achievement by the current big guns in the culture wars. Incidentally as an off topic, but really notable milestone: As far as I can understand the world, there are plenty of disappointments — and encountering folk who have a better grasp of the English language, is one such!
I applaud those people and their command of the gentle but very effective skills of the wordsmith! Mate, I intersperse serious and very heavy works of non-fiction with total literary fluff. Even the literary fluff has merit and can school a person in language skills as well as basics such as how to tell an engaging story.
Life would be rather dull if all we were able to read were heavy tomes of non-fiction. I hope nobody votes for J. I was forced to read that drivel in High School and even back then all I could think about was giving Holden Caulfied a resoundingly solid thump to the head with my left fist. The right fist could not have been used as it probably would have seriously injured him as he was such a weak character. Oh, sorry Robert E. Handy if you have a copy of the original then.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, despite being set during a zombie apocalypse, is still ultimately about the same awkward courtship the original centred on. Almost forgot to mention. One aspect of a taste for diverse sources of reading is that you can get a feel for what an authors intention may indeed be. It is an important subject which should concern most of us, although Sara may feel otherwise and she would be right to feel that way. I hope that her health is good in your new digs?
Anyway, back to the book. The author tracks the history of grains in agriculture and I must say that it is equal parts: If I had not read widely and diversely, I would not have been able to see the general thrust of the authors agenda in that section of the book. I was your typical intellectual mesomorph, never reading anything of value until I stumbled upon C.
Then like others have mentioned I started reading everything he read. I started with G. Chesterton, George MacDonald, St. I happened to be reading a copy at the time JMG asked us to read something from before the 20th century. Yes, his views on Indians, and his language, would be offensive today.
On the other hand they were repeatedly attempting to kill him…. Apparently this year the University of Oklahoma offered a class in canonical western literature that was very successful. It was modelled on one taught by W.
The article is subscription only unfortunately but this blog has an extract from it:. Auden even included nine operas. Auden assigned three of them…. The Auden-based course at Oklahoma is a small but significant instance of how it may be done. Western-canon talk offends many people in the humanities these days, the few faculty traditionalists often contesting the progressive orthodoxy….
I advise the traditionalists to try the Oklahoma way. Design your Western-civ or Great Books course and ramp it up to Auden levels. Be frank about the reading challenge. Boast of the aged, uncontemporary nature of the materials. Highlight the old-fashioned themes of greatness, heroism and villainy, love and betrayal, God and Truth, and say nothing against intersectionality and other currencies.
Your antagonists are mediocrity, youth culture, presentism, and the disengagement of professors and students. Let the undergrads decide. Do you genuinely believe that he said he opposes equal pay laws?
Did you miss the entire point about policies aiming at equality of outcome vs. What he said, transcribed word for word, is this: It certainly has nothing to do with equal pay laws which every western country has had for many years if not decades.
Most, though not all, of the so-called gender pay gap is the manipulation of statistics in service of a particular ideology. Now if you want to claim that opposition to laws aiming at equality of outcome IS opposition to equal pay laws then you would need to actually make that argument. Especially since he explicitly states in the same video that he fully supports equality of opportunity. Misrepresenting the view of those who do make that distinction is not honest debate.
Much of his political stuff is contained in video interviews. But this is irrelevant if the real problem is people listening to or reading the same thing and coming away with entirely different understandings.
The headline of the second video is misleading. Some group called The Big Think published that video and would have chosen the title. He says clearly in that video that not having any aim deprives your life of purpose and therefore meaning. He then says that hierarchy and inequality inevitably result from having an aim.
Obviously, a person who chooses earning lots of money as their highest aim has by doing so created a hierarchy in which all other goals are subordinated to earning money. He also claims that it produces a hierarchy involving other people in which some are better at your chosen aim than you are. He certainly could, like all of us, express himself more precisely at times. If the conscious aware mind is the visible bit of the iceberg, perhaps shutting it down allows unfiltered download into the subconscious.
Not only is there a need for a craft knife blade to interrupt the glamour, we also need something to shake loose and clean out the crud that is hidden beneath the surface. Not just a tick sucking blood but something that continues to reside in memory 50 years later and could potentially influence behaviour!
Do you have any thoughts on crud cleaning? On canons as a basis for assisting communication — okay, an old survey etc etc from but: Newspeak — An animated gif emoji Who needs to read when we have cat pictures and emojis to express things!? You may also end up with a gardening magazine from you found between the joists. I got both of mine from Draper. If you need tinsnips get the spring-loaded kind and not the scissors kind. Electric drill, screws, electric screwdriver. Your sanity will thank you.
I wonder if Samuel R. Delany will make it into a future canon. He is one of my all time favorite writers, a true master of the sentence. Still, what he tried to do with it, I appreciated, on a certain level For those who want to read it. I however love it. Thanks, JMG, for hosting this space where we can have these conversations, and for facilitating them. If this is being done with food, imagine what might be done with manipulation of the mind in relation to thought processes that influence activities like thinking and reading.
I was thinking about the need for something more than a craft blade at the tech cloud level… maybe Poseidon and a trident, but after reading that last, maybe Durga might be more appropriate! The first was okay but the second I really liked. I would like to read Emma next.
The three thoughts I have about Austen are: I wrote a response to Anomalies about Jane Austen, but the system seems to have lost it — shall I write it again? As to your early comments about cheesecake vs beefcake lit, I was in a friendly debate on this topic and would be interested to hear more opinions on the matter. The debate is which is the worse type of R-rated movie for young people: The pro-violence view would say that it is more damaging to have incorrect ideals about romance as it is more likely to be confused with real life.
On the other hand, if you believe you can be terrible to your love interest and simply make up for it with one grand gesture, you may end up ruining your relationships. Much of the action that takes place in violent movies is simply impossible. Additionally, aspiring to romantic ideals even if poorly depicted is much healthier than normalizing violent behavior. But for sake of argument, which is more damaging to be exposed to in media: I know, six of one, half dozen of another. Yet a problem with our culture as we stand now, without people reading much of the existing canon anymore, is the restriction it puts on conversation.
And popular culture is eating itself, to devastating effects. It seems the only reference point for some. I just follow my own interests and obsessions. I totally agree that the Catcher in the Rye is crap. Just look what it did to John Lennon! He was a much better artist than J. Salinger -and Yoko Ono was a much better artist than John in my opinion: Give me Conan any day….
JMG and Random Anomalies: I guess my melancholic tendencies give me a certain fondness for Gothic literature. I was watching a video on tips for university students, and it recommended making student clubs for socializing with like minded people without having to go to parties or that kind of socialization that most of us here do not like. So I pitched the idea to the coordinator of the library of starting a philosophy book club and she loved it.
I want to focus on a particular time period each semester, with meetings each week, starting this august with the greeks. Could you recommend a specific canon that I might check out? Or any piece of advice you could give me to make the best of it and have all of the members build a good body of knowledge? I notice that this is something they seem to get hung up on and totally flummoxed by. It could well take longer, but I figure the sooner the ball gets rolling, the better.
Jen, I also have that one by heart. Your broader point, though, is also important. Will, it must have disappeared. Peter, oh dear gods yes. As for Mann, though, The Magic Mountain is the most difficult of his works for me to read; Buddenbrooks is a lot more lively, though the hallucinatory intensity of Doctor Faustus makes that my favorite of his works.
Chris, I found Catcher in the Rye tedious; I think you had to belong to a certain generation to get into it. Sailor Steve Costigan is much better company! Nietzsche was my gateway author for modern philosophy — though I also had a gateway to him, which was Hermann Hesse. Yes, and again yes. Still, de gustibus and so on. Earthworm, thunder deities tend to be very well suited to such work. Monk, as you see, it found its way through.
All comments made here are moderated, meaning that I have to read and approve them before they appear…and sometimes it takes me a while to get around to it! Justin, oh, I know. Do you pronounce them like in normal speech, so that the rhyme gets lost, or do you force the rhyme?
I have been wanting to ask some native speaker about such rhymes for a long time. When they appear in Shakespeare or Chaucer, it is obviously because they did rhyme at that time. Are those purely visual rhymes, or archaisms? Juan Pablo, delighted to hear it. That gives you another solid semester. Shane, and that sort of historical senility is something that needs to be countered, in a big way.
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