Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Dalrymple Rules. I am three-fourths through Theodore Dalrymple's Our Culture, What's Left of It. This book and his earlier Life at the Bottom are two of the most fascinating books I have read in my life. (You can get both these books together from Amazon at a great price.) As I have mentioned before, Dalrymple is a social critic of astonishing breadth. He is only a few years younger than I, so his intellectual history parallels mine, although I would not begin to compare myself to his intellect and insight.

He quotes Edmund Burke in the chapter "All Sex, All the Time":

"[I]t is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men of intemperate minds cannot be free."

He calls this statement of Burke's a "lapidary warning". I had to look the adjective up. I thought I knew what it meant, but had never seen it in this context. It is an example of Dalrymple's use of words that leaves me shaking my head in wonder.

UPDATE: A "lapidary warning" is a warning of such importance that it is worthy of being engraved on a monument.

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