Sunday, April 09, 2006

"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain."

John Adams
US diplomat & politician (1735 - 1826)
In a letter to Abigail Adams.

Hmmm . . . I dunno. Is this the definition of decadence? I mean, seriously, are tapestry and porcelain the ultimate goal? Or am I being too literal here?

3 comments:

A. D. said...

this is one of those quotes that always comes back to me—often ironically.

maybe painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain are anachronistic.

could we update these to studies of film, fashion, reality tv, celebrity, and plastic surgery?

David Vincenti said...

Always dangerous to take Adams out of context. Ambitions, literate and prone to hyperbole are difficult to reconcile with crisis leadership and self-doubt. I think the only definition here is a man justifying putting great strain on himself and his family to secure a better future world.

Or maybe I'm taking the query too literally...

the machinist said...

hmmmm . . . I dunno, I like it. Seems a good way to encompass the drive to make the world a better place, especially at a time when risks to life & culture were at their greatest.