Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Briefly, yesterday, I ran into my twenty-year-old self. I was glancing through Matthew Arnold's 1865 essay "The Function of Criticism at the Present Time" and noticed a passage marked off with pen. This is what Arnold wrote in that passage:

Everything was long seen, by the young and ardent amongst us, in inseparable connection with politics and practical life. We have pretty well exhausted the benefits of seeing things in this connection, we have got all that can be got by seeing them. Let us try a more disinterested mode of seeing them; let us betake ourselves more to the serener life of the mind and spirit. This life, too, may have its excesses and dangers; but they are not for us at present.

In the margin next to Arnold's remark, I wrote:


I must say I was happy to hear the sound of my own voice--this tiny one-syllable memento of my callow youth. And I bet I didn't finish the essay.

No comments: