You Got Style
· Pointed Takes on Style Delineated ·
December 8, 2003
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· Michel Serres Aces the Final ·
Serres' words pass a clear test of intelligence and mark well the two aims of real study, instruction and education. As we sometimes forget them, I've thought Serres' "Rearing" section, from his book's third chapter ("Science, Law"), apt to our use. His passage, given today without added comment, I hope you'll agree merits a solid "A."
In any case, here's Serres' "Rearing":
In his previous section [pp. 94-5] — The Instructed Third (Le Tiers-Instruit) — Serres defines current civilization's ideal Sage:
Finally, siding with bonds tied rather than soil tilled, fibered cordage rather than farmed roots, he begs a concluding, speculative question about the current conditions of modern human belonging.
The answer is no. Serres assertion that "Since we left the ground . . . we have relied more on immaterial bonds than on roots" is unsupported here and unfounded elsewhere. Consider: We stem from our roots, but we choose our bonds. Bonds may be tied, broken and reformed, but roots are broken only at great risk. Has he no genes?
Yet, Serres' description of today's Sage is quite en pointe and somewhat familiar, friend Styles. Gratia.
Serres' Francophilic utopianism, as you say, is here interrogatively underjoined — I'd say in Robert Frost's great line, "To everything on earth the compass round." Clearly, you are right.
The sager chapter is today Wendell Berry's "The Body and the Earth" from The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture (1977). Berry has been a graceful presence here since day one.
En pointe like many of my students, though, Serres still, of course, may deserve his "A."
In any case, my sincere thanks for your kind note.
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