This week I read an article that said English is in terrible trouble because, briefly, stupid people are messing it up.
As is the case with so much of what the stupid people mess up, it isn't quite the fault of the stupid people exactly. Apparently they are being swept up in a wave of post-war middle-classiness that has bred a whole generation of pseudo-intellectuals.
Middle-classiness is a trouble unto itself and this trouble is a topic for another day, but I can attest truly to the problem of the pseudo-intellectual, because I am one.
Successful pseudo-intellectualism is merely a matter of confidence. I will go about using words like, for instance, 'betide' in sentences that don't begin with 'woe', and simply because I have done it and because nobody has the first idea anymore even what is a transitive verb, let alone how to use one, the fact that I have pretended to know what I am saying is enough to get away with it.
The thing is so far gone that most will by now have conceded that betide is, in fact, a transitive verb. This, even though my purpose in the selfsame sentence is to make explicit that I am only pretending to know. Selfsame. There I go again. For the faking of intellectualism, neither does it hurt any to throw in a little Latin. Quod erat demonstrandum.
All this could be a tiny bit awkward were one confronted with a real intellectual, but, take courage, real intellectuals are nowhere in evidence. Alas, stupidheadedness has gripped the whole of society, the Church, and government, and the universities especially.
Public policy is now based on flimsy emotion unencumbered with thought, imagination and hysteria pass for facts, and nobody much has had both the gumption and clarity to stand up and say, for one, “this new Mass is really quite goofy”.
To combat the despoiled state, an effort has begun among the Catholic Restorationists (a group to which this blog belongs) to compile a list of Essential Books. By these books we hope to foster a new generation without broken brains, who will look upon the state of the world and say “You fellows must be joking”.
But while a pseudo-intellectual like myself makes it his business to have heard of the kind of titles suggested, none of these are books I will actually read. To the list I managed only to contribute The House at Pooh Corner. Pooh Sticks is such a brilliant game.
Anyway, one of you other guys is going to have to fix the problem. I’m just letting you know about it.