An Excerpt. James Clerk Maxwell: “Lines written under the conviction that it is not wise to read Mathematics in November after one’s fire is out.”

. . . Thus the gaudy gowns were sold,
Cast off sloughs of pedants old;
Proudly marched the students bold
      Through the domain of error,
Till their trappings, false though fair,
Mouldered off and left them bare,
Clustering close in blank despair,
      Nakedness, cold, and terror.

Then, I said, “These haughty Schools
Boast that by their formal rules
They produce more learned fools
      Than could be well expected.
Learned fools they are indeed,
Learned in the books they read;
Fools whene’er they come to need
      Wisdom, too long neglected. . . .

A Passage. Of Revolution. Of Revolt. Of the Drama of Demonstration.

In assessing the summer’s events [in Birmingham], some observers have tended to diminish the achievement by treating the demonstrations as an end in themselves. The heroism of the marching, the drama of the confrontation, became in their minds the total accomplishment. It is true that these elements have meaning, but to ignore the concrete and specific gains in dismantling the structure of segregation is like noticing the beauty of the rain, but failing to see that it has enriched the soil. A social movement that only moves people is merely a revolt. A movement that changes both people and institutions is a revolution.

The summer of 1963 was a revolution because it changed the face of America. . . .

—Martin Luther King, Jr.
Why We Can’t Wait, “The Summer of Our Discontent”

A Criticism. Of Education.

Why would a Holocaust survivor ever endorse “education” as the  guarantee against human atrocity? The claim that more education could have saved lives, and will save lives—this claim coming from a Holocaust survivor—suggests a total ignorance about historical evidence. Maybe such a man believes that “surviving” history exempts him from the burden of reviewing history. (As if we are not all, in a sense, survivors of history!) But no, the evidence is clear. Education did not stop the manipulation of language and image that produced the Final Solution. Education did not guard German intellectuals from accepting, either actively or passively, the rhetoric of the Third Reich. Education did not overcome National Socialism. On the contrary, education—that gross abstraction usually mentioned with naïve warmness—education gave National Socialism its vision.

How sad to see a Holocaust survivor recommending a human institution as the guarantee against human atrocity. How sad. How sad. How blind.