But the grace had been withdrawn again, and in recent days . . . Sebastian sadly shook his head. Dust and cinders, the monkey devils, the imbecile unholiness of distraction. And because knowledge, the genuine knowledge beyond mere theory and book learning, was always a transforming participation in that which was known, it could never be communicated–not even to one’s own self when in a state of ignorance. The best one could hope to do by means of words was to remind oneself of what one once had unitively understand and, in others, to evoke the wish and create some of the conditions for a similar understanding. He reopened the book.

‘Spent the evening listening to people talking about the future organization of the world–God help us all! Do they forget what Acton said about power? “Power always corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. All great men are bad.” And he might have added that all great nations, all great classes, all great religions or professional groups are bad–bad in exact proportion as they exploit their power.

In the past there was an age of Shakespeare, of Voltaire, of Dickens. Ours is the age, not of any poet or thinker, or novelist, but of the Document. Our Representative Man is the traveling newspaper correspondent, who dashes off a best seller between two assignments. “Facts speak for themselves.” Illusion! Facts are ventriloquist’s dummies. Sitting on a wise man’s knee they may be made to utter words of wisdom; elsewhere, they say nothing, or talk nonsense, or indulge in sheer diabolism.

– Aldous Huxley, Time Must Have a Stop

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