Principles and platitudes

I think anyone who enjoys UR would enjoy this fine essay on “diversity” by John Rosenberg. And yes, Rosenberg’s blog is pretty much always this sharp.

I would not call Rosenberg a dissident. That is, I don’t think he agrees with me that the American university system is the functional equivalent of the pre-Reformation Church, or that it’s at least worth debating the question of whether the only way to deal with it is the full Henry VIII treatment. Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang!

(Alas, the Church at least knew its ass from its elbow when it came to architecture, and even a ruined choir has a certain Fuseliesque charm to it, but what would remain of UC Berkeley? Rebar, junkies and rats. Perhaps still an improvement, but let’s face the choice squarely. Just because America’s colleges and universities could be redeveloped as luxury condos and squash courts, doesn’t mean they will be. We can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.)

In any case, I like Rosenberg’s essay because it’s such an elegant contrast of formalist thinking with idealist thinking. Rosenberg looks at Bollinger’s words and asks: what do they mean? His answer is: nothing. David Stove, as so often, comes to mind.

Here at UR I’ve tried to explain, in a very abstract and theoretical sense, how the replacement of religion by idealism has allowed people who are essentially religious fanatics to achieve positions of unprecedented temporal supremacy, not only without arousing the alarm of reasonable, scientifically minded writers, but in fact enlisting their enthusiastic support.

But I’m not sure I’ve done a very good job of illustrating this abstraction. So I’m grateful to Rosenberg for this devastating little sketch.