"[...] when a reporter in Milan addressed him as 'the recognized leader in modern music', he responded, 'Perhaps, but here are good and bad musicians. I am Stravinsky and that is enough.' "
Robert Craft on Igor Stravinsky in The Company They Kept: Writers on Unforgttable Friendships (2006)
"A: According to [Julien Benda author of La trahison des clercs, 1927], this delicate balance of force and thought shifted in the first part of the twentieth century. Intellectuals gave up on serving philosophical ideals and became masters of justifying the status quo.
"Q: Still true?"
"A: Certainly still relevant. I would say that the problem today is less intellectuals abandoning the Enlightenment in favour of nationalism, though that still happens, and more the embrace of capitalism as the only framework of meaning. The most successful are the ones who parrot sociological evidence in smooth deployment of 'ideas' that sound kind of neat, a little obvious, but are given catcthy new labels, and so manage to challenge nothing and nobody even while creating the illusion of being 'smart.' Never mind if there are jaw-dropping errors here and there.
"Q: Malcolm Gladwell?"
"A: Malcolm Gladwell."
Mark Kingwell, "What Are Intellectuals For?: A Modest Proposal in Dialogue Form", Queen's Quarterly, Spring 2011, p.58.
Malcolm Gladwell obvious? One of the main themes of Outliers, presented with the astonished tone of one having just uncovered a long-buried secret, is that people are formed largely by their history -- their experiences, their upbringing, their opportunities, their culture. Obvious? I mean, what kind of drug is Mark Kingwell on? That's heady stuff, that proposition that people, for better or worse, are the sum total of their life experiences (leaving aside heredity). Deep.
"While incarcerated, [Conrad Black] became an English tutor four days a week, expanded that to include teaching inmates U.S. history and social economics on a volunteer basis and he served as the keynote speaker for African American History Day. His efforts contributed to a 67% increase in the high-school graduation rate of the prison’s inmates and that impact, according to his court filing, 'was nothing less than astounding'."
National Post, Saturday 14 May 2011 p. A5.
I know the National Post is his newspaper and I know the information likely came from his lawyers, but still ... if true, he deserves commendation.