Richard M. Weaver Award winner Josef Pieper (I) andrnT.S. Eliot Award winner Octavio Paz (r) pose withrnJohn Howard and Thomas Fleming.rnThe poetty of tradition is rooted in human occupations as theyrnare pursued from dawn to dark, from season to season, on landrnand sea, through harvest and winter, in war or peace. It is associatedrnwith festi’aLs and rituals, both sacred and secular; and therndistance between sacred and secular is not forbiddingly immense,rnas in our modern times. It is an art designed for oral performance,rnpreserved in human memorv and the oral traditionrnthat also preserves ballad and folk song; and maybe it is lost forrnthat er- reason. And een when written b’ known poets, greatrnpoets indeed, it still reflects the .standards and qualities of a poetn,-rnsung or spoken rather than a poetr’ read with the ec only.rnIt has a place in life, a use in life; it is not a fancy thing, not a luxur)’,rnnot a toy, not sheer entertainment—though it has the facult)’,rnall the same, in Sidney’s phrase, of holding children fromrnplay and old men from the chimney corner. It is a recognizedrnfunction of civilized life . . .rn—from Donald Davidson, “Ihe Lvric of Tradition,”rn’ December 1989rnThe false mysticism of an arbitrarily constructed jargon as wellrnas the exactness of a pseudo-philosophical scientistie terminologyrn—both are making us forget that the road leading from truernphilosophy to genuine poetr)’ has alreadv been paved: It is onlyrnthe water of plain language, by its undemanding simplicity permittingrnthe light to penetrate it to the bottom, that is capable ofrnbeing changed into the wine of poetry.rn—from Josef Pieper, “On Clarity,” April 1988rnSpeaking for myself, I find that both high culture and moralrnphilosophy are too often in the hands of people who, while theyrnhave excellent judgment, have a limited sense of humor. Thernarts of ridicule and satire can be employed to demolish vulgarity,rnstupidit)’, crude and cruel behavior. Ridicule is a strong andrneffective weapon. It should, I think, be studied as a means of expressingrnan honest literature in the world today.rnFor myself, moreover, I cannot dismiss any manifestation ofrnmass culture en bloc. We should always observe; we should findrnwhat is presen’able and precious among the welter of culturalrnphenomena with which we are constantiy bombarded. Thisrnneeds self-discipline, it needs self-training on the part of thoserngifted with ingenuity’ of approach and with comprehension.rnCulture, after all, concerns the human spirit. A too narrow andrnsevere discrimination can tend to annihilate ourselves, everythingrnaround us. And all to no effect.rn—from Muriel Spark, “Living With Culture,” April 1993rnIn life, of course, there are man)’ forms which are meaningful inrnthemselves and of great value. I think, for instance, of goodrnmanners. Some of my college students of the I960’s, believingrnthemselves to be naturally good and loving, rejected good mannersrnalong with certain other things, such as attractive dress andrncorrect grammar, which they believed to be artificial. That wasrna sad mistake. Manners are no more coercive than a dance steprnis coercive, and indeed thev are liberating: Seating ladies andrnopening doors for people, and writing thank-you notes to grandmother,rnare acts of compliance with a code, but they also facilitaternsocial dealings and the growth and expression of true kindness.rnThe forms of religion can also be benignly enabling.rnEleanor Clark, when living in Italy, found herself drawn towardrnthe Roman Church, and she asked an Italian Catholic friendrnhow she could best find out whether Catholicism was for her.rnThe friend said, “Go to Mass. Kneel when the others kneel.rnDo and say what the others do and say. Ultimately you will haverna Catholic experience.”rn—from Richard Wilbur, “Good Manners, Good Literature,”rnSeptember 1997rnTHE UTOPIAN NIGHTMARErnIf we cannot expect the peace people to listen to reason, it is becauserntheirs is a movement springing from the decadence ofrnChristian life and from the moral paralysis of those whose livesrnhave been robbed of any transcendental dimension. The curiousrnbelief of the peace people that the specter of nuclear annihilationrncan be exorcised by a series of public moral gesturesrnbecomes intelligible when we attribute to them a profane variationrnon Christian eschatology, from which divine providencernand original sin have both been deleted, leaving only a fur)’ ofrnnioral activism and the groundless certaint)’ that the obduraternrealities of historv’ and human nature can be overcome b)’ thernsheer power of moral commitincnt.rn—from John Gray, “‘I’he New Eschatology of Peace,” April 1989rnAdvocates of collective security who wish to substitute conceptsrnof “justice” for “national aggrandizement” greatly imderestimaternthe abilit)’ to win wide acceptance of what constitittes justicernwhen N’ital interests clash. The same problem of subjectiverninterpretation applies to branding one side or another as thern”aggressor.” The related principle, that borders are never to bernchanged by force, is tantamoiuit to proclaiming that the presentrndivisions of the world are so perfect they should be frozen inrntime. This is untenable, as the world has always been a dynamicrnsystem, something of which Americans should be well awarerngiven the role westward expansion has played in American histor)’rnand mythology. The application of imiversal ideals (whichrnare, in fact, not universally accepted) divorced from practicalrn64/CHRONICLESrnrnrn