Prose on So-Called Small Minds
Thomas Carlyle, who, in truth, had only sympathy not for the poor but for the infinite, famously observed that no healthy social relations are possible in the absence of the institution of hierarchy. Such is the pabulum produced by a great mind feeding on the body politic. But what of great minds, and by virtue of hierarchy, what, too, of small minds? What has been confused in the unintelligent for animal simplicity, infusing into modernity the ancient dichotomy between civilized and savage, is the mere influence of people who perceive the spectacle and understand not the species. The demonology of the Middle Ages has evolved, or rather stooped from excessive brooding, into the class consciousness of the modern economic system. Likewise, as scholastic metaphysics and its role has subsumed the minds of social theorists and subordinated their conceptions entirely, replacing theology with anthropology writ large as political economy and larger yet as global theory, the timid serf has lumbered through the ages and adopted the dress of his counterpart: the small-minded hedonist in the person of a working class man. We forget that, if great minds discourse on ideas, middling minds on events, and small minds on people of their own sort, this condescending trinity is as false as the Godhead of the desert mystics. Indeed, the mysticism of class consciousness imposes on man a rather morbid metaphor to which he gradually aspires: the better man’s brain is worn on the sleeve, and his heart worn out by the wallet.