There’s nothing like that feeling when you stumble on a writer you love. I had heard about Richard Weaver a lot but had never read him until last year. His book “Ideas Have Consequences” really opened up parts of my mind and thinking I did not know existed and changed the way I see the world. Weaver was an historian and philosopher, but specialized in teaching rhetoric, and I think that’s why his writing is so sharp. What’s interesting about Weaver is that like a lot of academia, and other professors, he was a materialistic socialist in his early years, but then as he started to grow up he discarded this view of life in favor of the poetic and transcendental.
He did this by discovering he liked the rural South, southerners, and traditional culture better than the materialistic one he was immersed in in Chicago, because it was more humane, spiritual, and poetic, so he started returning to his roots in North Carolina. His wasn’t some political or evangelical conversion, it was what he called a “Agrarian southern religious conversion.” Meaning he reconnected to his roots, his family, his ancestry, his native religion, and his folkways, even though he stayed on as a philosophy professor at U of Chicago. Tragically, he died young in his late 50s, and I wonder what could have been had he lived another 30 years because he was truly a genius.
This is a beneficial and prophetic essay of his on how to remain human and sane in an age of science, written in 1963, but amazingly it reads like it was written yesterday. One could only wonder what Weaver would write now, with “smart” phones, internet streaming, “social” media, etc.
Dealing with the effect of technology constructively is one of the best things we can do to be healthy in these frantic times we live in. This essay is well worth the read.
“The ideal of the human under the aegis of something higher provides the strongest counter-pressure against the fragmentation and barbarization of our world…” – Richard Weaver
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