Saturday, January 22, 2011

Breaking rules

Alan Jacobs posted this quote on his 'more than 95 theses' blog...
“The guardians of the liberal arts have made exactly the same mistake. They themselves are securely grounded in the tradition of the liberal arts—they know the languages and literatures so well they can dispense with them—but they have small interest and less intention of giving their students anything approaching the same grounding. Like the early Jewish secularists in this country, they cannot see that it is their very grounding in the tradition that enables them to “blur [its] boundaries.” Their revolt against the liberal arts belongs to the liberal arts. But not their students’, who have been given nothing to revolt against. For their students, blurring the boundaries of the liberal arts has meant that nothing at all remains to be seen or learned. The liberal arts teachers valued something else, including their own self-image as enlightened revolutionaries, over the liberal arts and the continuity of liberal arts education.”

from A Commonplace Blog: Blurring the liberal arts

I probably don't need to add anything to this; it applies to all subjects in which those in the know fail to ground those not in the know in the basics: music is one obvious area, in which young composers are often exposed only to established composers who have known the rules and then broken them - but the newbies don't have much idea what the rules that were broken were, and consequently write unfocused nonsense.

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