20 February 2013

He Said It: Percy

"In a word, thanks to the Jews, one can emerge from the enchanted mists of the mythical past, the Roman and Arthurian and Confederate past, lovely as it is. For, whatever else the Jews are, they are not mythical. Myths are stories which did not happen. But the Jews were there then and are here now.

"Semitic? Semiotic? Jews and the science of signs? Yes, because in this age of the lost self, lost in the desert of theory and consumption, nothing of significance remains but signs. And only two signs are of significance in a world where all theoretical cats are gray. One is oneself and the other is the Jews. But for the self that finds itself lost in the desert of theory and consumption, there is nothing to do but set out as a pilgrim in the desert in search of a sign. In this desert, that of theory and consumption, there remains only one sign, the Jews. By 'the Jews' I mean not only Israel, the exclusive power of God, but the worldwide ecclesia instituted by one of them, God-become-man, a Jew."

--Walker Percy, "Why Are You Catholic?" (1990)

12 February 2013

He Said It: Pope (The English Poet, Not the Supreme Pontiff)

"Know then thyself, presume not God to scan,
The proper study of mankind is man.
Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
A being darkly wise, and rudely great:
With too much knowledge for the sceptic side,
With too much weakness for the stoic's pride,
He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest;
In doubt to deem himself a god, or beast;
In doubt his mind or body to prefer;
Born but to die, and reasoning but to err; 
Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks too little, or too much:
Chaos of Thought and Passion, all confused;
Still by himself abused or disabused;
Created half to rise, and half to fall;
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl'd:
The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!"

--Alexander Pope (1688-1744), Essay on Man, Epistle II (1734)

05 February 2013

They Said It: Schwab and Ostrom

"Finally, it is worth noting that institutions--even well-designed ones--will not lead to beneficial outcomes by themselves. Institutions are inseparable from the people who make use of them, and, as noted above, all rules are subject to manipulation by political actors. Thus, at some point, we must cease to rely upon institutional corrections and place our faith in a citizenry well educated in virtue. Ultimately, we must be the guardians."

--David Schwab and Elinor Ostrom, "The Vital Role of Norms and Rules in Maintaining Open Public and Private Economies," in Moral Markets: The Critical Role of Values in the Economy, Paul J. Zak, ed. (Princeton, 2008), 233; italics in the original.