Thursday, 15 October 2015

Respectable old blockheads

No sagacious man will long retain his sagacity, if he live exclusively among reformers and progressive people, without periodically returning into the settled system of things, to correct himself by a new observation from that old standpoint.
Nathaniel Hawthorne - The Blithedale Romance (1852)

So not a new problem, living among reformers and progressive people who cast themselves adrift from reality. Hawthorne saw it over one hundred and fifty years ago. It wouldn’t matter if more stable folk were left alone to pursue what works and leave the rest alone but now we have mass meddling to contend with.

The second half of this Hawthorne quote bears an uncanny resemblance to blogging.

It was now time for me, therefore, to go and hold a little talk with the conservatives, the writers of “The North American Review,” the merchants, the politicians, the Cambridge men, and all those respectable old blockheads who still, in this intangibility and mistiness of affairs, kept a death-grip on one or two ideas which had not come into vogue since yesterday morning.

I have a feeling that there are many people in the blogosphere with a death-grip on one or two ideas which have not come into vogue since yesterday morning. At least I hope I’m one of them. Not so sure about being a respectable old blockhead even though Hawthorne probably meant it ironically. Maybe it's still better than the alternative.


James Higham said...

Hawthorne had wisdom.

Demetrius said...

In general old blockheads have encountered many more blockheads of various kinds than young ones. Often young blockheads have only moved in limited circles if only because they are young. The question is are blockheads therefore better able to make an estimate of what is coming than young ones because they have seen so many things come and go.

A K Haart said...

James - he did.

Demetrius - yes, we've seen the real blockheads and know their style.