c的笔记本对《The Well-Educated Mind》的笔记(5)

The Well-Educated Mind
  • 书名: The Well-Educated Mind
  • 作者: Susan Wise Bauer
  • 副标题: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had
  • 页数: 384
  • 出版社: W. W. Norton & Company
  • 出版年: 2003-08
  • 第13页
    All civilization comes through literature now, especially in our country. A Greek got his civilization by talking and looking, and in some measure a Parisian may still do it. But we, who live remote from history and monuments, we must read or we must barbarise. --William Dean Howells, The Rise of Silas Lapham
    'Reading alone allows us to reach out beyond the restrictions of time and space, to take part in what Mortimer Adler has called the "Great Conversation" of ideas that began in ancient times and has continued unbroken to the present. Reading makes us part of this Great Conversation, no matter where and when we pursue it.
    "Some books are to be tasted," wrote the sixteenth-century philosopher Francis Bacon, "others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." Bacon, who had a knack for the quotable (he is also responsible for "The remedy is worse than the disease" and "Knowledge is power"), was suggesting that not every book is worthy of serious attention. But the three levels of understanding he describes -- tasting, swallowing, and digesting -- reflect his familiarity with classical education. In the classical school, learning is a three-part process. First, taste: Gain basic knowledge of your subject. Second, swallow: Take the knowledge into your own understanding by evaluating it. Is it valid? is it true? Why? Third, digest: Fold the subject into your own understanding. let it change the way you think -- or reject it as unworthy. Taste, swallow, digest; find out the facts, evaluate them, form your own opinion.
    Jefferson (always full of advice on every subject) counselled his young nephew to organise this systematic reading around chronology: "Having laid down your plan [of reading], " he tells young Randolph, 'the order of time will be your sufficient guide.' In other words, read books in the order in which they were written. the nineteenth-century educator Lydia Sigourney agreed; in her Letters to Young Ladies, she recommended that reading always be done with the help of a "table of chronology... It is a good practice to fix in the memory some important eras -- the subversion of an empire, for instance -- and then ascertain what events were taking place in all other nations, at the same period of time. A few of these parallels, running through the History of the World, will collect rich clusters of knowledge, and arrange them in the conservatory of the mind." The book lists I include are arranged in chronology order for this very reason; it is easier to understand a subject if you begin with its foundational works, and then read systematically through those books that build, one layer at a time, on this foundation.
    When to read?
    Lydia Sigourney warned her "young ladies" that systematic reading is "peculiarly necessary" to women "because, dwelling much on the contemplation of little things, [we] are in danger of losing the intellectual appetite." Let's be egalitarian: this is equally true of men. We all juggle multiple jobs, housework, bill paying, paperwork, children and family, and dozens of smaller distractions: meals, groceries, e-mail, the ever-present lure of late-night television. The struggle to keep to self-imposed schedule of reading is often lost in those moments after dinner when the children are in bed, the dishes done, and we think: I've been working all day. I just need to vegetate for a few minutes before I try to use my brain. And three hours later we....
    While avoiding apocalyptic pronouncements on the decadence of modern society, I still suggest that the biggest difference between modern media and the long-enduring book is the way in which TV and the Internet manage to infiltrate themselves into spare moments and promptly swallow up those 'chasms of time.' ...
    High language about life of the mind has to be yield, at some point, to practical plans for del-cultivation. The mastery of grammar, writing, logic, analysis, and argumentation -- all of which I'll cover in chapters to come -- depends on the single uncomplicated act of carving out a space within which they can exist, The first task of self-education is not the reading of Plato, but the finding of twenty minutes in which you can devote yourself to thought, rather than to activity.
    2014-08-03 03:47:50 回应
  • 第24页
    But gathering data and reading -- understanding ideas and how people act when they try to live by those ideas -- are not the same occupation. When you gather data from a newspaper or book, you use the same mechanical skill as when you engage in serious reading. Your eyes move; the words convey meaning to your mind. Yet your mind itself functions in a different way. When you gather data, you become informed. When you read, you develop wisdom -- or, in Mortimer Alder's words, "become enlightened."... To be informed is to collect facts; to be enlightened is to understand an idea (justice, or charity, or human freedom) and use it to make sense of the facts you've gathered.
    ...These things must be expressed with precise and evocative words, assembled into complex, difficult sentences. To be enlightened -- to be wise -- you must wrestle with these sentences. Technology can do a great deal to make information gathering easier, but it can do little to simplify the gathering of wisdom. Information washes over us like a sea, and recedes without leaving its trace behind. Wrestling with truth, ... is a time-consuming process that marks us forever.
    ... As Kirkpatrick Sale has eloquently pointed out, every technology has its own internal ethical system. Steam technology made size a virtue. In the computerized world, faster is better, and speed is the highest virtue of all. When there is a flood of knowledge to be assimilated, the conduits had better flow fast.
    Peter Kump's Rule Three ("The more prior knowledge of the subject of a written passage the reader has, the easier it is to read fast") should encourage you...
    2014-08-04 14:54:21 回应
  • 第50页
    When you read chronologically, you reunite two fields that should never have been separated in the first place: history and literature. To study literature is to study what people thought, did, believed, suffered for, and argued about in the past; this is history. And although we do learn from archaeological discoveries, our primary source of information about former times has always been the writings of people who lived in the past. History can't be detached from the study of the written word. Nor should literature be removed from its historical context. A novel can tell you more about a writer's times than a historical textbook; an autobiography reveals the soul of an entire society, not just the interior life of an individual man or woman. The sciences suffer when they are treated as a clear lens into "truth", because the theory of the biologist or astronomer or physicist has as much to do with the scientist's society -- and the questions that society is asking -- as it has to do with pure discovery.
    Writers build on the work of those who have gone before them, and chronological reading provides you with a continuous story. What you learn from one book will reappear in the next. But more than that: You'll find yourself following a story that has to do with the development of civilization itself. When you read through the poetry list... The structure of the poetry will change as each poet moves beyond what former writers have done. But beyond these technical differences, the concerns of the poets shift and change as the world itself hurtles toward modernity: away from the nature of heroism and the quest for eternal life, toward the difficulties of simple existence in a chaotic and planless world. When you've finished with this particular list, you've done more than read poetry. You have learned something about the spiritual evolution of the West.
    Some books speak to us at one time of life and are silent at another. If a book remains voiceless to you, put it down and read the next book on the list.
    You don't have to progress all the way through grammar-stage reading, logic-stage inquiry, and rhetoric-stage discussion for every book. If a book enthralls you, linger over it. If you just barely make it through the first reading and close it with relief, there's no reason to feel that you must go on to the next stage of inquiry.
    A final disclaimer: List making is a dangerous occupation. .. and all lists are biased; they reflect the interests of the person who drew them up..... In some cases, I have included books because of their popularity or influence, not because they are the "best"; Hitler's autobiography, Mein Kampf, is unsatisfying as autobiography and irrational as political philosophy, and Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique has enormous flaws in the way it handles historical data. But Friedan's book started a revolution, and Hitler's started a war. In both cases, these books are important because of their cultural influence; they caused readers to look at American marriages, or the problem of national identity, with new interest. Their popularity is part of the history that you are studying when you read chronologically.
    2014-09-03 02:51:04 回应
  • 第60页
    Cleopatra and Caesar didn't amuse themselves with novels in their spare time, because the long story written in prose didn't exist in ancient times. The novel we know it today emerged in the eighteenth century, in the hands of Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, and Henry Fielding....
    These three stories used old conventions but filled them with something new: a glance into the internal life of an individual person. Before the eighteenth century, long stories written in prose featured entire chessboards full of static characters, shuffled through series of events in order to tell the story of a nation, explain an idea, or illustrate a set of virtues.. But Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding produced a new kind of book: the Book of the Person.
    They weren't the first. Over in Spain, a century and a half before Defoe, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra had already written the first Book of the Person: the story of Don Quixote, the gentleman of La Mancha who decided to become a knight errant. But Cervantes was a lone genius. Defoe, Fielding, and Richardson together began a literary movement that flowered, fully blown, into a new kind of literature: the prose narrative that explores the interior life of a character.
    This new form, the "novel", had to compete with another, less respectable literary form, the "romance."....Romance reading was not a manly and respectable pastime.
    Novelists, on the other hand, wanted to be taken very seriously indeed. Novels dealt with real people in familiar situations; as Samuel Johnson wrote in 1750, novelists tried to "exhibit life in its true state, diversified only by accidents that daily happen in the world, and influenced by passions and qualities which are really to be found in conversing with mankind." But eighteenth-century readers were a little confused by this distinction between the tawdry "romance" and the noble "novel" -- and novelists such as Swift, who insisted on trotting his hero through fantastic landscapes, didn't improve matters. For decades, novels came in for a large share of the general disdain that educated readers felt for romances....
    Yet the novel prospered. Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding had produced their innovations during a time when the individual self, with all its traumas and dilemmas, was of great interest to the public at large. Thanks to the Protestant Reformation, the soul (at least in England and America, the sources of all the eighteenth-century and most of the nineteenth-century novels on our list) was imagined as a lone entity, making its solitary way through vast and confusing landscape. John Bunyan's Christian, called by Evangelist to forsake his doomed city and find the wicker gate, is called alone. He has to put his fingers in his ears and run away from his wife and children to find salvation, separating himself from every human tie in order to unite himself with god.
    Interest in the private self was on the upswing, impelled not only by Protestantism but by capitalism, which encouraged each person to think of himself (or herself) as an individual, able to rise up through society's levels toward wealth and leisure. The self was no longer part of a rigid, unshifting feudal system, with responsibilities beginning at the birth and never changing thereafter. The self was free.
    Reams have been written on this subject, but for our purposes it's enough to know that this sense of an individual self with a private internal life was central to all the major developments of modern Western life: Enlightenment thought, the Protestant religion, the development of capitalism, and (of course) the novel. Novelists celebrated the individual: Charlotte Bronte's tortured and passionate heroes; Jane Austen's heroines, manoeuvring through a society that both protects and hampers them; Nathaniel Hawthorne's tortured, adulterous clergyman. And the public bought, and read.
    Popularity is always a double-edged sword, though. The intellectual elite had already been suspicious of the novel, because of its identification with the "romance". Now they were doubly suspicious. After all, books that everyone reads can't really be worthy of attention by the most educated....
    How did novelists fight back? By playing up their connection with real life. Fantastic tales were scorned. Stories about reality gained critical acclaim.
    ... IN the nineteenth century, the soap opera of choice was the "Gothic novel"....
    A few brave novelists -- notably Hawthorne, who could never resist a touch of supernatural horrors, and Emily Bronte, who had a weakness for ghosts at windows -- borrowed Gothic elements to jazz up their tales of adulterous Puritans and unhappy moor residents. But most serious writers rejected the fantastic in favour of the real. The novel even developed a social conscience. Charles Dickens and his American counterpart, Harriet Beecher Stowe, used their stories to kick against the injustices of a market economy that built wealth on the backs of the weak; Dickens protested English society's use of children for labour, while Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin put a human face on the slave labour that made the southern economy run...
    The earliest writers had seen nothing wrong with pointing out the fictional nature of their stories.. But later novelists avoided this sort of intrusion into the narrative. They wanted readers to discover a 'real' world, not an imaginary one. The late-nineteenth-century novel wasn't supposed to be the child of the writer's brain; it was intended to be an accurate record of ordinary life.
    This new philosophy of realism turned the novelists into a sort of scientist. Like the scientist, the novelists recorded every detail rather than selectively describing scenes -- which tended to make most realistic novels very, very long. The father of realism, the French novelist Gustave Flaubert, was so determined to portray real characters in a real country town that he drew maps and diagrams of his imaginary world. (He got a little lost in the details occasionally; if you're careful, you can catch his heroine turning the wrong direction to go home.) Flaubert's Emma Bovary is the woman eighteenth-century clergymen fretted about, the female reader whose love for romances has blotted out "real life." She is consumed by the desire for romance, that "great passion which... hovered like a great pink-plumagedbird soaring in the splendour of poetic skies," and this absorption in fantasy makes her "unable to believe that the tranquility in which she was living was the happiness of which she had dreamed."
    Emma Bovary comes to a bad end -- she eats arsenic after realising that she'll never be able to live in a romance -- but the realistic novel flourished. Henry James's characters don't run around with indians in the woods, like the hero of the romantic Leatherstocking tales. Nor do they develop mysterious stigmata and die from guilt, like Hawthorne's anguished clergyman. Instead they go to their jobs, live in their dusty, high-ceilinged rooms, battle consumption, and marry men who are presentable but no great shakes -- like most of the "regular" folk in the world 5. (5. Realism is one of the major movements in English and American fiction. ... that the movement involves: 1. detail derived from observation and documentation; 2. an effort to portray normal experience, not the exceptional; 3. an "objective, so far as an artist can achieve objectivity, rather than a subjective or idealistic view of human nature and experience."...)
    Which brings us, more or less, up to the present. Realism never really goes away. Even today, stories that describe "extraordinary" events (thrillers, science fiction, fantasies, and to some extent religious fiction) tend to be intellectually exiled, dismissed as "popular" genres unworthy of serious critical acclaim. But in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, realism developed offshoots. Dostoyevsky and Kafka perfected a "psychological realism" that pays less attention to physical details and more to psychological details. Rather than giving loving attention to the exact appearance of landscapes or furnishing, psychological realism tries to paint an accurate picture of the mind, so that the reader seems to be in direct contact with a character's mental processes. William James (Henry's brother) invented the term "stream of consciousness" in 1900 to describe the unordered but natural flow of human thought, and novelists from Conrad to Virginia Woolf seized on this idea. "Stream of consciousness" writing is the psychological equivalent of the detailed physical landscape description: We are to think that we are seeing, uncensored by the writer's judgment, the "facts" of the mind....
    Too much of this sort of thing is just as wearying as the protracted details of ponds and heaths found in early realism. But early-twentieth-century writers were enthralled by the stream-of-consciousness technique. Faulkner's characters rarely come to us by any other means, and James Joyce produced (in Ulysses) a famously dense chunk of stream-of-consciousness writing that lasts forty-five pages....
    Another form of realism -- even more ferociously modern than "psychological realism" -- was naturalism. Naturalist writers were convinced that they could write "purely scientific" novels. The individual, the subject of all novelisation since Don Quixote, was no longer free. The "self" was only the product of inherited traits plus environmental influence. Naturalist writers -- most notably Thomas Hardy -- gave their characters certain genetic characteristics, plopped them down into a sheer hell of environmental factors, and then described the resulting behaviour....
    And so we arrive at the twentieth century. The style of realism, with its careful cataloguing of detail, is still with us. Don DeLillo begins his 1985 novel White Noise with his narrator leaning out a window, watching the college....
    But the ideas behind the novel have changes since realism's heyday. The novel is generally considered to have moved through "modernity" to "postmodernity." Defining these two terms is tricky, since no one realised that modernity existed until it had been replaced by postmodernity, which simply means "following modernity."
    More simply, then: Modernism is a type of realism. It too strives to portray "real life." But modernists, writing during and after two world wars, saw that their Victorian ancestors were deluded. The Victorians thought that they could understand what life was all about, but the modernists knew that "real life" was actually beyond understanding. "Real life" was chaotic, planless and unguided, and so the "scientific style" of the modernist is chaotic, refusing to bring novels neatly into any kind of resolution... Absence of plot made the modernist novel very difficult to read, especially for the common reader who hankered for a story.
    But the modernists tended to scorn story. One of modernism's most unattractive aspects was its snobbery. Modernist writers distrusted the masses and put all their faith in a small, well-educated elite. Several prominent modernists (most notably Ezra Pound) supported fascism and sneered at democracy. And the most well known were particularly savage about "popular fiction." The novel was an intellectual exercise, not a form of entertainment, and readers who wanted entertainment were welcome to go buy a dime-store western. Virginia Woolf moaned that the novelist was a "slave" to the necessity of selling books; she longed for a fiction that could be free, with "no plot, no comedy, no tragedy, no love interest, or catastrophe in the accepted style." E.M.Foster wrote that "oh dear, yes -- the novel tells a story," but wished with all his heart that the market wouldn't demand "story", that "low atavistic form." (As both Foster and Woolf ended up telling quite interesting stories, the market apparently won out in the end.)
    NO one like sot be condescended to, so it's hardly surprising that most high school students develop a loathing for the modernist novels they're forced to rad in senior English and go to the movies instead.. They're being good postmodernists.
    ... Postmodernism rejects modernism's claim to know the truth about real life. Postmodernism says: There are many ways to portray real life and no single authority can pick which one is right. Buffy the Vampire Slayer has just as much intellectual value as Heart of Darkness.
    The postmodern novelist considered that all previous attempts to write about the individual self were flawed, because those earlier attempts insisted on seeing the self as essentially free. No, no, says the postmodernist; the private self that we first met in Don Quixote and Pilgrim's Progress isn't some sort of independent, free being that can find its own path through obstacles, triumphing over society's hypocrisies. Nor was that self formed by nature and genetics. Instead, that private self was produced by society. Everything that we think about ourselves -- every "truth" we know about our own existence -- has been instilled in us, since birth, by our culture. We can't ever get "outside" of society's structures in order to see what is really true. And when we examine our own deepest selves, all we'll find is a collection of social conventions.
    Postmodern novelists didn't try to write original stories, since "original" implies some sort of creative ability which is free from the influence of society. Instead, they wrote about society, about the flood of information that shapes us from birth. Their careful, lengthy cataloguing of the details of daily life reminds the reader: This is who you are. You're formed and shaped by these details. You can't ever escape them.
    ... For folks who reject the idea of "one truth," postmodernists are amazingly loud as they shout their conclusions: Get it? Get it? You don't have any power. You're pushed here and there by your society. It rules you. It is you.
    Literary postmodernism began to lose some of its steam in the late 1970s, and no single "movement" has replaced it (these things are easier to see in retrospect). But it seems that as the novel reaches its four hundredth birthday, we've come full circle, back around to Don Quixote..... the twentieth-century novelist Italo Calvino announces..
    This technique is called metafiction. Rather than creating a fictional world that pretends to be real, metafiction admits, right up front, that it's only a story;...Calvino doesn't have to worry about being taken seriously. He can admit that he's writing a novel, because the postmodernists have already shown that the contest between "real" and "false" is only a product of realist's quest for a truth that doesn't even exist.
    So that tension created in the first years of the novel's existence -- the tension between real and fictional, fantasy and reality, novel and romance -- has finally begun to ease. Fantastic events are once again possible, and novels that make use of them have their own (intellectually respectable) label: magic realism. Plot has even made a minor comeback....
    After four hundred years, the occupation of novel writing has grown up: The best writers of metafiction are happy to be called storytellers, even commencers. Postmodernism, for all its flaws, loosened the stranglehold of nineteenth-century realism and its related forms, and gave the imagination back some of the power that was usurped in the days of the realists and naturalists.
    2014-08-30 04:42:28 回应
  • 第75页
    The Second Level of Inquiry: Logic-Stage Reading
    Is this novel a "fable" or a "chronicle"?
    What does the central character (or characters) want? What is standing in his (or her) way? And what strategy does he (or she) pursue in order to overcome this block?
    Who is telling you this story?.. stories are told by a voice. Whose voice is it? Or, in other words, what point of view does the writer adopt?
    Point of view, like other aspects of fiction, can be broken into dozens of types, each subtlely different. Unless you plan to make a detailed study of the art of fiction, you only need to be familiar with the five basic points of view. Each has its advantages and tradeoffs.
    Where is the story set? Every story happens in a physical place. Is this place natural, or human-constructed? If natural, do the woods and fields and skies reflect the emotions and problems of the characters? Do clouds cover the sky as the heroine weeps; does the wind rise as tempers fray? Or is nature unresponsive to the hero's struggles? The answers to these questions will tell you how the novelist views the human relationship to the physical world. Is humanity so intimately connected to nature that the earth responds to the human plight? Or is the universe indifferent? Are we the center of the universe, or simply bugs crawling on its uncaring surface?
    Human-built surroundings -- a city, a house, a room -- can also reflect the inner life of the characters: bare and clean, cluttered and confused.... (writes the narrator of Camus's The Stranger,... The thick, unvarying atmosphere reflects the narrator's own inability to pierce through the fog of confusion all around him.
    Look for several sections of description and ask yourself: Who is present in this scene? What are her surroundings like? How does she sense them? What does this say about her state of mind?
    What style does the writer employ? "Style" refers not only to the vocabulary a writer uses (simple or multisyllabic?) but also to the general length of sentences. Are they short and terse? Or complex, containing many clauses and subordinate ideas?
    At the beginning of the twentieth century, realistic novelists made a concerted effort to move away from complex, complicated sentences -- the product of thought and careful pencil work -- toward a more colloquial, casual style, closer to what "real, plain people" would use in everyday conversation. This shift away from formal language reflected a change in ideas of "good style."
    You can identify whether the writer is using formal or informal language (or diction) by using a few simple, mechanical devices. In Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student, Edward Corbett suggests the following:
    These mechanical exercises can help you begin to evaluate whether the writer's style is "plain" (short, common words, simple sentences) or more complex and ornamental.
    Now take three passage of dialogue from three different characters and compare them, using the above exercise. Do all these characters talk alike? (This is a very common flaw --even in the work of great writers.) Or do their patterns of speech reflect the fact that they have different backgrounds, different jobs, different lives?
    Images and metaphors...
    A metaphor is a physical object or act that stands for somethings else -- an attitude, a situation, a truth. A metaphor is different from an allegory.. an allegory is a set of related metaphors, whereas a metaphor is a single image that may bear multiple meanings.
    Beginnings and endings...
    John Gardner suggests, in the Art of Fiction, that stories have two kinds of endings. There is the resolution, when "no further event can take place (the murderer has been caught and hanged, the diamond has been found and restored to its owner, the elusive lady has been captured and married)." In contrast is the ending of logical exhaustion, in which the characters have reached "the stage of infinite repetition; more events might follow .. but they will all express the same thing -- for example, the character's entrapment in empty ritual or some consistently wrong response to the pressures of his environment."
    What sort of ending does the book have? The resolution that Gardner describes shows a certain faith that we can triumph over our world, control our existence by discovering rules we can follow in order to bring success (or break to court disaster). The ending of logical exhaustion, on the other hand, shows that we are trapped, powerless, condemned to repeat the same actions over and over again. Each kind of ending demonstrates a certain philosophy about the nature of human life. Do you agree with that philosophy?
    That question (Do I agree?) leads us into the third stage of reading: the rhetoric phase.
    The Third Level of Inquiry: Rhetoric-Stage Reading
    Do you sympathize with the characters? Which ones, and why?...
    Is the novel self-reflective?..
    Did the writer's times affect him?...
    A good rule of thumb is to read twenty years on either side of the work in question, so that when you read Pilgrim's Progress you should read about events in England from 1660 to 1700....
    Is there an argument in this book? ..
    A novel is not an argument, and story should never be boiled down into a syllogism. The primary purpose of a novelist is to lead you through an experience, not to convince you of a point. But in many novels, there is an idea. The writer, in describing the life of one particular character, is making a statement about the human condition in general...
    So think about what happens to the main characters, and why. Is there an argument in the hero's (or heroine's) fate -- or in the villain's downfall?
    Do you agree? ...
    Related to this is one final question: What is fiction meant to do? Why are you reading a novel at all? Are you expecting to find out some truth about human nature? Should a novel reveal some difficult, hard-to-face truth about ourselves? Do novels show the inevitable end of certain paths? Or are they, instead, agents of moral change? Do they show us models so that we can amend our ways? This idea-- that fiction provides us with a model -- itself has a certain assumption behind it: There is some standard of human behavior which applies to all of us, in all cultures, and our quest in life is to uncover it.
    The opposing idea was once expressed by Alexander Pope in the phrase, "Whatever is, is right." The novel doesn't set out an ideal, because to assume that there is such a thing as an unchanging standard of behavior governing all people at all times is narrow minded and myopic. The novel has no business in providing models. It simply explores realities: It opens numerous doors for you to peer through, but makes no suggestions as to which threshold you should cross.
    Read the following list in chronological order:
    Don Quixote
    The Pilgrim's Progress
    Best edition: The penguin Classic paperback (New York: Penguin Books, 1987;)
    Gulliver's Travels
    Best edition: The Oxford World's Classics paperback (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998)... also available in Dover Thrift edition.
    2014-10-26 19:16:53 回应