Generalizations

This is Richard Mitchell in 1982, setting type for an issue of The Underground Grammarian, of which I was a subscriber for ten years. Richard died in 2002. I miss him.

 · The Underground Grammarian — Richard Mitchell ·

“If you cannot be the master of your language, you must be its slave. If you cannot examine your thoughts, you have no choice but to think them, however silly they may be.”

“It is an obvious but simple distinction–though rarely made–that there are some things that we can do because we are humanity, and some things that we can do because we are persons, and that there is some radical and absolute difference between the two classes of things. They do not overlap. A person can no more invade Normandy than an army can play the violin.”

“We are warned in schools–well, maybe in some schools–against what is generally called “generalization.” Generalizations often name many minds and then go on to speak as though they were a mind. Right from the start, they speak of what is not, for the Italians can not believe one thing and the Belgians another. Only a person can believe or think–or feel, for that matter. And when we undertake to talk about what is not, we are in danger of falling into nonsense and talking rubbish.

But the warning against generalization is ordinarily provided not for intellectual reasons but for social reasons. It is certainly true that vague generalization provides an easy way to insult lots of people all at once without having to prove anything, but it also provides an easy way to praise or flatter lots of people all at once without having to prove anything.”

Richard Mitchell

Posted by Dave

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