In line with my first post about the humanities, what have I been up to?
Art history - no.
Music - Nightwish and Eliza Gylkison, mostly while preparing a really big nut roast because we had friends coming round.
Religion, philosophy, history of science, classical studies - no.
But the big one this week is history, which is reviewed in the previous post on this blog, on "The Relief of Belsen" and David Irving on the Holocaust.
And, under literature, I'll put The Relief of Belsen, which I saw on More4 last night, which reminded me about one of the great strands of thinking about the humanities. It's the Matthew Arnold, Leavis view that great literature, great art, great music etc have an improving effect on those who are exposed to them, and that western civilisation is therefore moving ever upwards towards greater and greater nobility. Among the British, American and Russian troops who liberated the death camps, there were men and officers who had been brought up in this tradition, indeed with fine degrees in literature, music and so on, who believed heart and soul in the improving effects of the humanities. And they had to confront the fact that the atrocities whose effects they witnessed were commanded by German officers who committed the most unspeakable acts during the working day and then went home to read Goethe and Schiller over their schnapps. It is no longer possible to believe, simplistically, that the humanities unproblematically improve us. So why do we study them?