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the gateway of delight (was Net-porn bill)

  • From: Lucy E. Lynch
  • Date: Tue Mar 22 18:28:46 2005

On Tue, 22 Mar 2005, Randy Bush wrote:

> maybe i am slow or jaded, but i am not learning much new from this
> rather large thread.  yes, politicians grandstand on 'moral' issues.
> yes, it is popular to legislate rather than educate 'morals' (thanks
> lucy for the reference to
>   <> and

for those of you who don't have the time to read this whole thing, two
tasty bits:

"So the relationship with books and plays and stories we develop in the
school of morals is a profoundly, intensely, essentially democratic one,
and it`s characterised by mutual responsibility. It places demands on the
reader, because that is the nature of a democracy: citizens have to play
their part. If we don`t bring our own best qualities to the encounter, we
will take little away. Furthermore, it isn`t static: there is no final,
unquestionable, unchanging authority. It`s dynamic. It changes and
develops as our understanding grows, as our experience of reading - and of
life itself - increases. Books we once thought great come to seem shallow
and meretricious; books we once thought boring reveal their subtle
treasures of wit, their unsuspected shafts of wisdom. And this progress is
real progress; it`s not the endless regression of shifting sand underfoot
and the shimmering falsity of a mirage endlessly retreating ahead, it`s
solid stepping stones, and clear understanding.

     And it`s voluntary.

     Because this is the thing I really want to get across: the school of
morals works best when it doesn`t work like a school. The way real reading
happens, the way in to the school of morals, goes through the gateway of


"I haven`t mentioned simple human wickedness. Or laziness, or greed, or
fear, or the strongest regiment of all in the army of darkness: stupidity.
Any of those can bring down the school of morals in a day.

     I haven`t mentioned death. I haven`t mentioned hazard, or the
environmental recklessness that will do for us all if we don`t change our
way of life.

     These are mighty forces, and I think they will defeat the school of
morals, in the end. But that doesn`t mean we should give up and surrender.
Nor does it mean we should turn the school of morals into a fortress, and
surround it with rules and systems and procedures, and look out over the
ramparts with suspicion and hostility. That would be a different kind of

     I think we should act as if.

     I think we should read books, and tell children stories, and take
them to the theatre, and learn poems, and play music, as if it would make
a difference.

     I think that while believing that the school of morals is probably
doomed, we should act as if it were not. We should act as if the universe
were listening to us and responding; we should act as if life were going
to win. We should act as if we were celebrating a wedding: we should act
as if we were attending the marriage of responsibility and delight."

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