American Culture and Society since the 1930s by Christopher Brookeman

By Christopher Brookeman

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We were born of earth - why should we spurn it? But in scienee we eultivate quite a different attitude. Science is an order 01' experience in which we mutilate and prey upon nature .... (GWT, p. 139) This mutilation ofnature by science is manifest in the procedures and philosophy of scientific investigation: When our thinking is scientific or conceptual, we fail to observe the particular objects as particulars, or as objects which are different and contain a great many features not at all covered by the given concept.

S. Eliot and Dwight Macdonald. T. S. 3 Dwight Macdonald's version of the grand moment of decline is similar: 'The turning point in our culture was the civil war, whose aftermath destroyed the New England tradition almost as completely as the October Revolution broke the continuity ofRussian culture'. Macdonald's account includes a note of liberal despair at what might have been: New England culture dwindled to provincial gentility and there was no other to take its place; it was smothered by the growth of mass industry, by westward expansion, and above all by the massive immigration from non-English-speaking countries.

As a result ofEliot's arguments, Dante and Donne became monuments of artistic excellence, the 'ideal order' that modern poets should follow. It is no coincidence that Eliot's dividing line between unification and dissociation coincides with the demise of feudalism and Roman Catholicism, and the rise of capitalism and protestantism. Eliot's ideas are basic to a whole generation of critics who celebrated the arts, and poetry in particular, as elaborate linguistic structures that were not expressions of a single unsubstantial self but were rather complex treatments of inherited traditions.

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