There's a kind of artificiality in conduct now

"Of course, modern man, especially in his liberal version, has become a very odd creature. He cherishes a standard of ideal goodness for himself--he's for all the good things and against all the bad things. We're all like that now to a certain extent. We identify with the good.

But it drives us into a certain absurdity. Because that's not the way we make real judgments. It's a kind of armor we put on so we enjoy the safety of our goodness. An artist as artist doesn't have any ill will toward anyone. He proceeds with a passion toward the thing he does. But now we're very reluctant to injure or be injured. Our chests are covered with medals saying, "I am not a racist; I am not a sexist; I am not a misogynist. I'm for all the good things." And our chests decorated with these insignia, we go through life without thinking about it anymore.

There's a kind of artificiality in conduct now. People used to be closer to their natures. Or perhaps I see it more because the ideological lines have been drawn tighter now. We have the burden laid on us of understanding a multitude of things we don't understand and are not informed about. We're just not capable of making judgments. The power to think about things is withering noticeably, now more than ever." - Saul Bellow.


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