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July 30, 2004


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The quote from Paz is gorgeous, but it's besides the point.The spectacle is an manifestation of highly developed capitalism.Nothing metaphysical or poetic about it.

Excellence scares the daylights out us. It can't be bought and sold. The moment of insight that comes when we're faced it, and the laughing Buddha who says "you're a schlub" at that moment, runs counter to the dialogue we've adopted for self-protection.

Excellence is undemocratic. A hierarchy of sorts? A real issue for me, since most of what teaching is all about is cultivating excellence, at least it should be, in the humanities. Does that make us elitist? Would we do better to retreat into the control room and put some schlock jock out in front, to boost ratings, and give people what they want? The pyramid broadens as you reach the base. Bigger market.

I am in favor of unlimited excellence and would cheerfully take a seat in the classroom.

Excellence doesn't become elitist until the authority that goes with it is abused. Remember, you are a mortal.

Is it immoral or cruel to puncture the balloons of illusion? Only if you do it with malice. A careful teacher trains himself to deflate the lout gently. It's basic street smarts, and the other louts won't feel the need to form a militia or put frogs in your desk drawers.

Excellence is yes hierarchy of the best sort, and its most noble and effective use imo is that which you have proposed - mentoring.

And esp. in journalism, media where ethics and purpose have lost their way in the face of Mammon

We here in NA face constant cognitive dissonance. Competition is everything, and excellence is in most organizations' mission statement as well as in peoples' personal mission statements, and yet we do "excellence" fir the wrong reasons, the wrong purposes.

The questions "why excellence" and to what end in the context of building a civil society would be helpful to us, kinda like "how ought we to live" ... excellently, I suppose.

I too am surprised that Tom does not have more readers. perhaps it is because his thought and its expression is so clear that you only need to read it, and what's left to say ?

Yes, excellence scares us, cause we then (as Harry pointed out) stand naked in front of it, and that takes courage that comes from deep inside.

Perhaps Tom, like other brilliant men, has a morality that's scarier than even his excellence.

There should be an award for such individuals, and the traditional cup of hemlock won't do.

Tom sees more than he says, being a man of great self-restraint.

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