Essays in Rebellion eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 277 pages of information about Essays in Rebellion.
attack altogether?  Let them adopt the methods of these new teachers of Eugenics, whom we have described as insisting on quality.  For the teachers of Eugenics, as I understand, do not go about saying, “O parents, what inferior and degenerate children you have!  How goose-faced, rabbit-mouthed, lantern-jawed, pot-bellied, spindle-shanked, and splay-footed they are!  It was a most anti-social action to produce these puny monstrosities, and when you found yourselves falling in love, you ought to have run to opposite antipodes.”  That, I believe, is no longer the method of the Eugenic teacher.  He now shows beforehand wherein the beauty and excellence of human development may lie.  He insists upon quality, he raises a standard, he diffuses an unconscious fastidiousness of selection.  He does not prevent Tom and Sal from falling in love, but he makes Tom, and especially Sal, less satisfied with the first that comes, less easily bemused with the tenth-rate rubbish of a man or girl.

By similar methods, it seems to us, the critics might even now relieve humanity from the oncoming host of spirits that threatens to overwhelm us.  They find it useless to tell creative writers how hideous and mis-begotten their productions are—­how deeply tainted with erotics, neurotics, hysteria, consumption, or fatty degeneration.  Either the writers do not listen, or they reply, “Thank you, but neurotics and degeneracy are in the fashion, and we like them.”  Let the critics change their method by widely extending their action.  Let them insist upon quality, and show beforehand what quality means.  Let them rise from the position of reviewers, and apply to the general thought of the world that critical power of which Matthew Arnold was thinking when he wrote: 

“The best spiritual work of criticism is to keep man from self-satisfaction which is retarding and vulgarising, to lead him towards perfection by making his mind dwell upon what is excellent in itself, and the absolute beauty and fitness of things.”

Such criticism, if persisted in by all critics for a generation, would act as so wholesome and tonic a course of Eugenic instruction, would so strongly insist upon quality, and so widely diffuse an unconscious fastidiousness of selection, that the locust cloud of phantoms which now darken the zenith might be dissipated, and again we should behold the sky which is the home of stars.  For we may safely suppose that excellence will never be super-abundant, nor quality be found in hordes.  No one can tell how fine, how fit, and few the children of our creative artists might then become.  But, as in prophetic vision, we can picture the rarity of their beauty, and when they come knocking at our door, we will share with them the spiritual food that they demand from our brains, and give them a drink of our brief and irrevocable time.

XXXII

THE MEDICINE OF THE MIND

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Essays in Rebellion from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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