Scholars Gone Wild! More Barely Burlesqued Quotations from a Reputedly Great History of Western Culture

From Jacques Barzun’s From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life (2000) with little or no distortion:

•  Kepler, the discoverer of the elliptical nature of planetary orbits, “was a practicing astrologist.” (p. 196)

He invented the elliptical writing used in modern horoscopes.

•  Newton was “a dedicated alchemist.” (p. 196)

He sure struck gold when he combined figs with shortbread.

•  Paracelsus was “hot with anger against authority.” (p. 197)

You should have seen his brother Full-On Celsus–as a little boy the Church confirmed him just so they could immediately excommunicate him, he was that bad.

•  The Catholic Church defended Galileo as long as they could. It was the rest of the public that was against him. (p. 204)

•  Pascal was too Catholic to be a mystic. (p. 215)

Jesus was too mystic to be a Catholic.

•  Science is bourgeois.  It’s just so new money. (pp. 206-207)

•  The Middle Ages were jolly, not gloomy. Feudalism was a breeze. (p. 225-226)

•  No one thought the world was going to end in A.D. 999. It’s a myth. (p. 227)

•  Dante’s beloved Beatrice was nine years old. (p. 233)

Reading his poems is now like watching Woody Allen’s Manhattan.

•  Romantic poetry and courtly love indirectly led to women’s rights. The Crusades helped too. (pp. 232-234)

My love is like an autonomous independent being 

who dependeth not on my regard for her self-worth,

nor yet the approval of any man she may be seeing

to imbue her life with meaning, or give birth

•  Medieval medicine makes a lot of sense. (p. 223)

•  In the Middle Ages, bands of graduate and undergraduate students roamed the countryside practicing anarchy. The more sedentary just preyed upon the nearby townspeople. (p. 229)

•  In the Middle Ages, there was no Middle Ages. (pp. 224-225)

If only that were also true for the Postmodern Era.

•  In the 16th and 17th Centuries, Germany and Italy caused “harm” to other European powers “by their tempting weakness.” (p. 241)

Blaming victims again? (see May 24th post below)

•  Dueling is an improvement over clan warfare, and absolute monarchs are better than dueling aristocrats (pp. 241-243)

Now here Barzun might be on to something.

Alan Brech 2012

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s