No Comment, Quotation — July 26, 2008, 7:17 am

Gracián on the Role of Culture

greco-cardinal

Cultura, y aliño. Nace bárbaro el hombre, redímese de bestia cultivándose. Hace personas la cultura, y más cuanto mayor. En fe de ella pudo Grecia llamar bárbaro a todo el restante universo. Es muy tosca la ignorancia; no hay cosa que más cultive que el saber. Pero aun la misma sabiduría fue grosera, si desaliñada. No sólo ha de ser aliñado el entender, también el querer, y más el conversar. Hállanse hombres naturalmente aliñados, de gala interior y exterior, en concepto y palabras, en los arreos del cuerpo, que son como la corteza, y en las prendas del alma, que son el fruto. Otros hay, al contrario, tan groseros, que todas sus cosas, y tal vez eminencias, las deslucieron con un intolerable bárbaro desaseo.

Culture and Elegance. Man is born a barbarian and raises himself above the beastly by means of culture. Culture therefore makes the man; the more a man, the higher. Thanks to it, Greece could call the rest of the world barbarians. Ignorance is very raw; nothing contributes so much to culture as knowledge. But even knowledge is coarse if without elegance. Not alone must our intelligence be elegant, but our desires, and above all our conversation. Some men are naturally elegant in their internal and external qualities, in their thoughts, in their address, in their dress, which is the rind of the soul, and in their talent, which is its fruit. There are others, on the other hand, who are so crude that everything about them, even their excellences, is tarnished by an intolerable and barbaric disorder.

Baltasar Gracián y Morales, Oráculo manual y arte de prudencia § lxxxvii (1647)(S.H. following J. Jacobs transl. 1892).

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

From the June 2014 issue

The Guantánamo “Suicides,” Revisited

A missing document suggests a possible CIA cover-up

No Comment March 28, 2014, 12:32 pm

Scott Horton Debates John Rizzo on Democracy Now!

On CIA secrecy, torture, and war-making powers

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

August 2014

The End of Retirement

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Octopus and Its Grandchildren

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Francis and the Nuns

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Return of the Strongman

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
“Evidence of a chill was plain. People in Hailey spoke to me about Bergdahl in low voices, as if about a death.”
Fox & Friends, July 6, 2014
Article
The Seductive Catastrophe·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The world’s leaders were moved by a populace fused into a forward phalanx, were shaken by a tidal wave of militancy jubilantly united.”
Photograph courtesy Mary Evans Picture Library
Post
The Glitch in the Video-Game Graveyard·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“From the nerd squabbles of Internet discussion threads rose an urban legend that culminated in a film that hinges on digging through my town’s trash.”
Illustration (detail) by Timothy Taranto
Article
What the Camera Saw·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“They shot him behind the left ear, and he fell.”
Article
Bounty·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If I’d been one of the unprepared, I’d be desperate, too.”
Illustration (detail) by Simon Pemberton

Chances that an organ transplanted in New York City last year came from a murder victim:

1 in 4

Two thirds of U.S. teenagers experience uncontrollable rage.

In Gainesville, Florida, a drunk man who jumped out of his pickup truck to yell at the driver in front of him was run over by his own vehicle.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today