Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Intertunnel is a fabulous place...............

This essay contains this line:  "The dispute recalls the comment of another Harvard professor, Henry Kissinger, that academic politics are so bitter because the stakes are so low."  It's a cute quote.  I have used it in conversations myself.  Reading it this time, however, the questions arose:  "Given the successful march of stultifying political correctness from academia to the mainstream, were the stakes really all that low?" and  "What would Kissinger think now?"  Not having the ability to ask him, the next best thing, The Oracle Google, was consulted.  Among other things this year-old post from the Quote Investigator was found.  It includes these fun quotes:

In 1765, Samuel Johnson wrote this

"It is not easy to discover from what cause the acrimony of a scholiast can naturally proceed. The subjects to be discussed by him are of very small importance; they involve neither property nor liberty; nor favour the interest of sect or party. The various readings of copies, and different interpretations of a passage, seem to be questions that might exercise the wit, without engaging the passions."
"But whether it be, that small things make mean men proud, and vanity catches small occasions; or that all contrariety of opinion, even in those that can defend it no longer, makes proud men angry; there is often found in commentaries a spontaneous strain of invective and contempt, more eager and venomous than is vented by the most furious controvertist in politicks against those whom he is hired to defame."
In 1970, Dwight Waldo wrote this:
We can no longer use our little joke that campus politics are so nasty because the stakes are so small. They are now so nasty because the stakes are so large.
For the record, Wikiquote seems to believe that the subject quote was "misattributed" to Kissinger.  This whole process of "discovery" took about two minutes.   Isn't the Intertunnel is a fabulous place?

1 comment:

  1. It is fabulous. You should spend a little time on it. E.