Friday, March 29, 2013

The loss of manners and beauty

I am saying, or suggesting, only this: when the faith and the institutions of society which nurtured beauty are fallen into disuse, neither money nor governmental decree can revive beauty. Manners and beauty are not the subjects of fiat. The arbiters of manners and artistic taste, as of morals, Davy Hume said, are men of strong sense and delicate sentiment, whose impressions force themselves upon the wills of their fellow men. Destroy that class of persons, and you destroy manners and beauty.

And, manners and beauty vanished, no culture survives that is worthy of the name. That consummation attained, the best a society may hope for is an endless boredom of utilitarian ugliness; but the odds are that soon such a "civilization" will feel at its throat the prick of the bowie knife.
~Russell Kirk, The Intemperate Professor, p. 159