Wednesday, June 04, 2008


What, do you think, are the chances of this working? Some details:

More than two dozen young people who broke into Robert Frost’s former home for a beer party and trashed the place are being required to take classes in his poetry as part of their punishment.

Using “The Road Not Taken” and another poem as jumping-off points, Frost biographer Jay Parini hopes to show the vandals the error of their ways — and the redemptive power of poetry.

Many people think the arts have the power to make people better. Some think the same of education. The idea is that the more cultured you are, the better you will be. And the more education you have the better you will be.

But this is folly, is it not?

If you educate a thief you only increase his capacity to steal, said a once famous theologian. And I suspect that if you immerse a jerk in the poetry of Frost, you’ll get a jerk who knows the poetry of Frost, not a non-jerk.

Here’s the test. Think of the highly educated and highly cultured. Are they moral people? Are they more moral than the less cultured, and the less educated?

A proposition: the highly educated and the highly cultured have a more difficult time distinguishing good from evil, and decent from indecent. They seek to get beyond good and evil.

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