Saturday, August 08, 2009

Quote of the Day (8/8/09) (Walker Percy Week)

Consider to what extent an "antique" is prized because it is excellently made and beautiful and to what extent it is prized because it is an antique and as such is saturated with another time and another place and is therefore resistant to absorption by the self just as a pine piling saturated in creosote resists corrosion by the sea and thus possesses a higher coefficient of informing power for the naught of self.

If you say that a writing table made by Thomas Sheraton is of value because it is excellently made and beautiful, how would you go about making a writing table now that would be similarly prized as an antique two hundred years from now?

The real question of course is whether the twentieth-century self is different from the eighteenth-century self, both in its reliance on "antiques" to inform itself and in its ability to make a writing table which is graceful and useful and for no other reason. Was a well-to-do eighteenth-century Englishman content to buy a Sheraton writing table, or would he have preferred a fifteenth-century "antique"?
--Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book

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