Friday, August 15, 2008
  Salute to Lysle Mason

[Branching from Polistra's Dream part 6. This was written first as a footnote, later split off as separate entry.]

The notion that civilization requires a certain degree of strictness is relatively undiscussed today. American commentators on both sides insist on touting Freedom, which is a delusion. It ain't Freedom that gives us civilization, and the main benefit of civilization is not Freedom.

I learned this by example from Professor Lysle Mason at Phillips in 1978, though he wasn't really trying to teach it. He was only trying to teach math courses like Diff Eq and Theory of Ring Algebras.

In '78, the anything-goes wildness of hippie times had developed (as per Lenin's plan) into a hard-line dialectic. The Alinsky rules for dialog were fully imposed in most college classes, as follows: Professors must allow free speech so that leftists can cuss down and shout down any opposition to leftist causes. The Alinsky rules are universal today. Watch any cable TV "discussion" program for instruction in the method.

I didn't understand this connection at the time. I just assumed that freedom worked this way. Didn't notice that it allowed only one idea to be voiced.

Prof Mason did things differently. In a year when most professors tried to look and act like Elvis, Mason looked and acted like a 19th-century German professor, with rimless glasses, short hair and three-piece suits. If ten-piece suits were available, Mason would have worn ten-piece suits. He required a similar level of decorum from his students. Males must wear coat and tie, females must wear dresses. (Not miniskirts, needless to say.) He called everyone by title: Mr, Miss, Mrs as appropriate, and required good grammar and relatively formal speech in discussions.

Well, what happened? Was discussion totally squashed by this unspeakably Victorian "tyranny"? Not at all. Ideas bloomed.

Admittedly the range of relevant ideas in Diff Eq is rather limited, but the effect was still visible. You could ask how this equation would be used by a painter, or ask why Leibniz and Newton were in competition. And the question could be discussed fully, without any interruptions by Leftist cussing; all sides could be aired without any shouts of HOW DARE YOU or McCARTHYISM or RACISM or SEXISM. In other classes, and in discussions out of class, you knew for sure that your thoughts and musings would be interrupted and chopped off by one of those key phrases.

I gradually noticed the difference. There was no tension in Prof Mason's class, no self-censorship to avoid triggering the standard Leftist phrases.

Alinsky uses "free" behavior to crush free thought. In Mason's world of "unfree" behavior, the mind could relax, freed from the fear of intellectual bullying.

So this episode is dedicated to the memory of Prof Mason, who died last year.

[I carried this point in a different direction in Sushi or Smuckers.]

Labels:

 


<< Home

blogger hit counter
My Photo
Name:
Location: Spokane

Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

My graphics products:

Free stuff at ShareCG

And some leftovers here.

ARCHIVES
March 2005 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / May 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 / November 2007 / December 2007 / January 2008 / February 2008 / March 2008 / April 2008 / May 2008 / June 2008 / July 2008 / August 2008 / September 2008 / October 2008 / November 2008 / December 2008 / January 2009 / February 2009 / March 2009 / April 2009 / May 2009 / June 2009 / July 2009 / August 2009 / September 2009 / October 2009 / November 2009 / December 2009 / January 2010 / February 2010 / March 2010 / April 2010 / May 2010 / June 2010 / July 2010 / August 2010 / September 2010 / October 2010 / November 2010 / December 2010 / January 2011 / February 2011 / March 2011 / April 2011 / May 2011 / June 2011 / July 2011 / August 2011 / September 2011 / October 2011 / November 2011 / December 2011 / January 2012 / February 2012 / March 2012 / April 2012 / May 2012 / June 2012 / July 2012 / August 2012 / September 2012 / October 2012 / November 2012 / December 2012 / January 2013 / February 2013 / March 2013 / April 2013 / May 2013 / June 2013 / July 2013 / August 2013 / September 2013 / October 2013 / November 2013 / December 2013 / January 2014 / February 2014 / March 2014 / April 2014 / May 2014 / June 2014 / July 2014 / August 2014 / September 2014 / October 2014 / November 2014 / December 2014 / January 2015 / February 2015 / March 2015 / April 2015 / May 2015 / June 2015 / July 2015 / August 2015 / September 2015 / October 2015 / November 2015 / December 2015 / January 2016 / February 2016 / March 2016 / April 2016 / May 2016 / June 2016 / July 2016 / August 2016 / September 2016 / October 2016 / November 2016 / December 2016 / January 2017 / February 2017 / March 2017 / April 2017 / May 2017 / June 2017 / July 2017 / August 2017 / September 2017 / October 2017 /


Major tags or subjects:

Aberree
Carbon Cult
Constants and variables
Defensible spaces
Experiential education
Grand Blueprint
Гром победы
Heimatkunde
Language updates
Metrology
Natural law = Sharia law
Patient things
Skill-estate
Switchover

Powered by Blogger