In my blog of January 20, I speculated on the pluses and minuses of attempting to preserve every little jot and squiggle we have decided to honor as great art. If Shakespeare had been denied his hour to strut and fret upon the stage, I wrote, would the stars twinkle less brightly? The question was half serious and half tongue in cheek, but now I find that, as usual, the young are way ahead of me.
Heather Mac Donald, in The Wall Street Journal notes a revolt is underway among the “turks” on the faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles. They intend to banish all the old white guys from the Humanities curriculum, beginning with Aristotle and Plato. They will be replaced with studies of human oppression: the histories of women, people of color and those with variant sexual orientations. (“Getting A Degree In Victimhood” by Heather Mac Donald, The Wall Street Journal, excerpted in The Week, Jan. 17, 2014, pg. 12) Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton will be replaced by a postmodern look at “Empire.”
If the Humanities are to reflect our understanding of the human condition, then empire and oppression should be represented. Still, are we to banish all the great master? All? Surely human history contains more than the march of despots. Surely there is room for beauty, laughter and wit. No, I repent the words of my January blog. Relevant or not in the “turk’s” eyes, I’ll keep my Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton, all of whom wrote of oppression. Not while I walk upon this earth will I allow the classics to go gently into that good night. My earlier, irreverent sniping at the classics have found a way to haunt me, like Banquo’s ghost, and I do repent. Yes. I do repent.
(Courtesy of 3danimationhnc.blogspot.com)