Tuesday, February 25, 2020


A New Flood of Unreason

Francis G. Allinson (1856-1931), Lucian, Satirist and Artist (London: George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd., 1926), pp. 8-9:
A parallel drawn between the Age of the Antonines and the present Age of Science may seem irrelevant. Human reason, equipped with the dazzling gifts, beneficent and maleficent, of applied science, seems to rest secure above the flood. Pessimistic prophecies of a return of the Dark Ages seem sufficiently negligible. The flow of disciplined reason from Democritus and Aristotle to Darwin, from Hippocrates and Galen to Pasteur has been, for long intervals, retarded or turned backward, but not dried up. None the less the intelligentsia of today, as in the Age of the Antonines, finds itself unexpectedly isolated by a new flood of unreason. Spiritists and fundamentalists, communists and commercialists, quack "educators" and litterateurs, even "casters of horoscopes" threaten the dear-bought progress of the disciplined mind in matters ethical, political, artistic and intellectual; some by undisguised obscurantism, others, who confuse motion with "progress," by laying their uncharted courses back from accredited discipline, back towards the caveman. For many, or all, of these phenomena illuminating illustration may be drawn from Lucian's satires. Applied with due attention to perspective, his mordant strictures may prove a useful corrective in the bewildering complex of uncorrelated ideas and desires that run riot in our suddenly dislocated civilization.

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