The imposition of factualities

Winston’s Diary links to a passage from Iain Pears’ Death and Restoration (Art History Mystery), which features Jonathan Argyll, an art dealer and professor. Argyll’s head of department is critiquing his lecture.

“You didn’t show many pictures. Risky. They like looking at pictures. You don’t show pictures, they’ve not got anything to do. Except listen, and think. And lectures. Dear me. A bit authoritarian, you know? Don’t you think a group interaction module might be better?”

“What’s that?”

“It’s where you break down hierarchy. They teach themselves.”

“But they don’t know anything,” Argyll protested. “How can you teach yourself if you don’t know anything to start off with?”

“Ah. You’ve spotted the snag. However, that one is easily solved. You are confusing knowledge with creativity. You are meant to be encouraging their self-expression. Not stifling it by the imposition of factualities over which you deny them control.”


The other man sighed. “I’m afraid so. Don’t look at me like that. It’s not my fault.”

Like Winston, I’m a fan of Pears’ An Instance of the Fingerpost and The Dream of Scipio. There are quite a few factualities in both books.

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