August 23, 2014

Oscar Wilde on the tyranny of the technocratic mind

Society often forgives the criminal. It never forgives the dreamer. The beautiful sterile emotions that art excites in us, are hateful in its eyes, and so completely are people dominated by the tyranny of this dreadful social ideal that they are always coming shamelessly up to one at Private Views and other places that are open to the general public, and saying in a loud, stentorian voice, “What are you doing?” whereas “What are you thinking?” is the only question that any single civilized being should ever be allowed to whisper to another…But someone should teach them that while, in the opinion of society, Contemplation is the gravest sin of which any citizen can be guilty, in the opinion of the highest culture it is the proper occupation of man.
Oscar Wilde*

*From "The Critic as Artist," as quoted in Richard Ellmann's biography

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