On arrogance and second hand literary wisdom

imageSince Colin Berry found it necessary to question the accuracy of a quotation by someone else by actually saying . . .

Goodnight David Goulet. I suggest you go away and do your homework – thoroughly, before pitting me against your second hand literary wisdom.

. . . I will take the opportunity to question a quotation Colin has used a couple of times. I wasn’t going to say anything. I do like the quote. I do hope William F. Buckley actually used these words; for I want to use them and attribute them to him. I won’t go so far, however, as to say Buckley didn’t say:

In short form:

  • “The purpose of an open mind is to close it . . .”

In long form:

  • “The purpose of an open mind is to close it, on particular subjects. If you never do — you’ve simply abdicated the responsibility to think.”

He must of said it, right? But Wikiquote, a Wikipedia affiliated project and the online bible of such things, is in the process of purging the quote for lack of a definitive source. But there is hope. Colin do you have a reference? I’ll even update Wikiquote or let you have the honor.

Is it perhaps an internet inspired adaption of the this quote by the Catholic apologist, G. K. Chesterton who wrote:

The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.

— Autobiography. Collected Works Vol. 16, p. 212

Perhaps Buckley “borrowed” the words and swizzled them and the meaning. I don’t know. I hope I’m wrong and that along with David I merely suffer from “second hand literary wisdom.”

Anyway, Colin, there was a better way to offer a correction to someone. I don’t want things spinning out of control again.

6 thoughts on “On arrogance and second hand literary wisdom”

  1. When things are perceived as “spinning out of control” due to anything I have said in the course of free-flowing debate, I simply take my leave until tempers have cooled. Goodnight.

  2. PS: And I frankly don’t give a tinker’s cuss as to who said it, or who didn’t say it, or may have said it, or who was or was not misquoted. It’s quite frankly one of the the finest quotes I have ever encountered.

    Why? Because it guarantees transparency. And if there’s one thing notably absent in the Shroudology literature, it is scientific transparency.

    Maybe that’s what attracted this retired science bod to Shroudology it in the first place – the lack of transparency…the disingenuous manipulation of words and syntax, the rotten whiff of bent science..

  3. “I will not go quietly into the night…”:
    A misquote from the great Welsh poet Dylan Thomas 1914-1953, best known for his brilliant classic radio play “Under Milk Wood’, a day in the life of a small Welsh village. I first encountered UMW on an LP, as a young student around 1960, have since read the script often, participated in several theatre group readings, and at the slightest provocation will replay my copies of the full text with Richard Burton as Reader 1. Thomas himself led a somewhat dissolute life-style, eventually dying of alcohol poisoning in New York, having just turned 39. His inability to deal with his Inland Revenue problems plagued him for most of his life, and compounded his chronic alcoholism.

    Dylan Thomas wrote the poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”, with its echoing refrain, “Rage, rage against the dying of the light” when his father was being afflicted with the onset of blindness. The dying of the light is a reference to darkness and being blind. A degree of blindness may occasionally affect more than just a few of us.

    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
    Because their words had forked no lightning they
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
    Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
    And learn, too late, they grieve it on its way,
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
    Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    And you, my father, there on the sad height,
    Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
    Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
    Dylan Thomas ~1951

    1. It’s surely about death, impending death, even if his father’s death was preceded by blindness (which I have no reason to doubt). One might be able to postpone death through sheer will power, but one can hardly say the same for blindness.

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