Notes On Attention Paid

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The Journals of Denton Welch

… this interesting passage:

We saw in front of us the little untutored Gothic revival church — how much better, sometimes, only a little knowledge is! The person who built this church was unclogged with “book-learning” and so his church is unrepulsive and almost pretty and good. But I am well aware how dangerous this gospel of ignorance can be. It is, I suppose, excuse for every inanity. Things only are good because they are good. But ignorance or book learning can help or hinder according to other circumstances that shall combine with them.1

… there is a potentially profound truth here… we make a big deal about book learning… high school, college, post-graduate learning… in general, these things are positive for individuals and society, but they are never a guarantee of wisdom and good judgement… wisdom and judiciousness are qualities that one has or doesn’t… they seem more fundamental to bringing forward good things than book learning… i don’t know if they can be cultivated or not… generally speaking, some level of restraint is needed in one’s personality to make room for these qualities…

… we are past the war in the journals, which, until the doodle-bugs arrived, featured pretty peripherally in them… but still, little things that are memories of the war pop up… windows in an historic church blown out and yet to be repaired… a friend stopping by with camping equipment issued during the war… a tartan rug with two round holes in it, bullet or moth?… he’s not sure…


  1. The Journals of Denton Welch, pp 247-48. [return]