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I'm reading Anna Karenina right now. It's enjoyable. I think many people would get something out of it if they read it. But most people never did. The majority has never been "well-read". And so, if we can make the majority well-equipped with information (by destroying impenetrable silos and distributing their grain), who cares if that doesn't have any other effect? The person who is well-informed will not necessarily be the same person who has received an excellent liberal arts education any more, but at least ze'll be well-informed.

Edit: clarity. I never intended to say anything about the classics' value, only their past and future popularity.

(in hindsight, the former could easily have been an interpretation of the post)




I can read a wikipedia article on Libertarianism, or I can read "Stranger in a Strange Land". I can read about the dangers of absolute power and lack of free will, or I can read "1984".

The lessons learned from classics are constantly quoted, and it's beneficial for people to read and learn.

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I absolutely agree that reading some classics would be valuable for anyone, but I think it would be hard to learn anything concrete from a lot of what is considered "art".

My argument was that we aren't destroying the silos because we hate the information, we're destroying them because we hate the silos. And if that's beneficial, who cares if most people, who wouldn't have otherwise read Russian literature or listened to Mozart, still don't?

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Who cares if other people, who most likely wouldn't have read the manual for their computer, still don't?

I mean, Google is obviously supplanting the manual for a lot of things, but the point is much the same. If people read the fucking manual, they'll have a lot fewer problems. And a lot of the classics are pretty damn good manuals for life.

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I'd venture that someone could spend a lifetime attempting to read/listen to the 'classics' and still not fully accomplish that goal. So does this mean that we should all dwell in the past and eschew the future? Or that we should eschew the past and focus on the future?

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The future is often the past repeating itself, but most aren't aware of this.

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That one is trotted out a little too often. I much prefer Twain's "History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

It's important to know of the past, but many who use this argument are simply afraid of the present, and are attempting to denigrate new ideas and discoveries.

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I said often, not always. Also, it tends to be an amalgam of different pasts. Like right now what the US is doing in the Middle East looks a whole lot like Athens during the Peloponnesian War, and what we're doing financially looks like what Japan did.

So, I do think it is an accurate phrase, but misunderstood.

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You're not going to find out about 'what Japan did' by reading 'the classics' though. The past is encompassed in more than just classic literature.

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Quite true, but classics focus on distilling principles. If the authors' thinking was valid then, there isn't any reason it shouldn't be valid now, as I've been arguing that at least parts of the past repeat.

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I think that in a lot of cases, if you're looking to learn something "concrete" from a piece of art, or art in general, you might be looking at it the wrong way. A lot of the best art is instructive in some way, but not the same way that a wikipedia article or a technical how-to is.

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Perhaps not all knowledge is concrete.

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Stranger in a Strange Land was about libertarianism? I think you might mean The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, perhaps.

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Jubal Harshaw seems to be a libertarian.

Also I need to hit him up for some pick-up advice.

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SPOILER maybe

they both have a wise man (Prof/Jubal),

someone with ridiculous power to get them what they need (Mike PC and the Frenchman/Jubal and Mike Smith),

someone rallying to the cause (Wyoh/Ben)

and someone who is central to the cause but is initially reluctant (Manuel/Jill)

and it's a fight for rights of the powerless over the incumbent rulers. They both have a rebellious feel, though "Moon" is more blunt about its political statement (anti-war, small government).

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