Mark Ward, False Friends, and a Plea to Undo the Renaissance

What happens if we broaden Mark Ward’s “False Friends” rhetoric and apply it to the richness of the Great Tradition of the West? Let’s take a look at some of the great literary works of the West and see if Ward’s rhetoric would apply. Below are random selections from a randomly chosen page in their respective texts.

“‘It behooves you to go by another way if you would escape from this wild place,’ he answered when he saw me weep, ‘for this beast, the cause of your complaint, lets no man pass her way, but so besets him that she slays him; and she has a nature so vicious and malign that she never sates her greedy appetite and after feeding is hungrier than before.'” – Dante, Inferno, Canto 1.

“And then he said to Palamon the knight,
‘I think there needs but little sermoning
To gain your own assent to such a thing.
Come near, and take your lady by the hand.’
And they were joined together by the band
That is called matrimony, also marriage,
By counsel of the Duke and all his peerage.”
– Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, Part 4.

“I praise God for you sir: your reasons at dinner have been sharp and sententious; pleasant without scurrility, witty without affection, audacious without impudency, learned without opinion, and strange without heresy. I did converse this quondam day with a companion of the king’s, who is intituled, nominated, or called Don Adriano de Armado.” – Shakespeare, Love’s Labour Lost, Act 5, Scene 1.

“If ever mortal eyes do see them bolster
More than their own! What then? how then?
What shall I say? Where’s satisfaction?
It is impossible you should see this,
Were they as prime as goats, as hot as monkeys,
As salt as wolves in pride, and fool as gross
As ignorance made drunk. But yet, I say,
If imputation and strong circumstances
Which lead directly to the door of truth,
Will give you satisfaction, you may have’t.”
– Shakespeare, Othello, Act 3, Scene 3, Line 399-408

“Hail holy light, ofspring of Heav’n first-born,
Or of th’ Eternal Coeternal beam
May I express thee unblam’d? since God is light,
And never but in unapproached light
Dwelt from Eternitie, dwelt then in thee,
Bright effluence of bright essence increate.
Or hear’st thou rather pure Ethereal stream,
Whose Fountain who shall tell? before the Sun,
Before the Heavens thou wert, and at the voice
Of God, as with a Mantle didst invest
The rising world of waters dark and deep
Won from the void and formless infinite.”
– John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 3, Lines 1-12.

“Those to whom the king had entrusted me, observing how ill I was clad, ordered a taylor to come next morning, and take my measure for a suit of cloaths. The operator did his office after a different manner from those of his trade in Europe. He first took my altitude by a quadrant, and then with rule and compass, described the dimensions and out-line of my whole body; all which he entered upon paper, and in six days brought my cloths very ill made, and quite out of shape, by happening to mistake a figure in the calculation.” – Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, A Voyage to Laputa, Chap. 2

“The entertainment was not as agreeable and natural as it might have been. Mr. Meagles, hove down by his good company while he highly appreciated it, was not himself. Mrs. Gowan was herself, and that did not improve him. The fiction that it was not Mr. Meagles who had stood in the way, but that it was the Family greatness, and that the Family greatness had made a concession, and there was now a soothing unanimity, pervaded the affair, though it was never openly expressed.” – Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit, Chapter 34.

“Princess Mary, as she sat listening to the old men’s talk and faultfinding, understood nothing of what she heard; she only wondered whether the guests had all observed her father’s hostile attitude toward her. She did not even notice the special attentions and amiabilities shown her during dinner by Boris Druberskoy, who was visiting them for the third time already.” Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, Book 8, Chap. 4.

Given these examples, it seems to be that a great part if not all of the Great Tradition of the West is foreign to Mark Ward. That is, those quoted above as well as those of the Great Tradition who wrote in Greek and Latin all fall under the condemnation of Ward’s “False Friends” rhetoric. But instead of encouraging his readers to experience the brilliance of Dante, Shakespeare, Chaucer, and the King James Version, he complains about their language and choice of words.

In short, in seems Ward is unwittingly doing his part to besmirch and ultimately clear away the greatest literature ever to form the Western mind thus providing more room for their literary betters like Marvel Comics, 50 Shades of Grey, Harry Potter, and The Message. Ward’s “False Friends” rhetoric is a call to reshape the Great Tradition of Western Literature and the Expressive Individualists of our day are undoubtedly more than happy to accept his assistance.

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