We, the Other Victorians: Considering the Heritage of 19th by S. Caporale Bizzini

By S. Caporale Bizzini

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Not a leaf or a weed or an insect was disturbed. Wood rats had free access even to the larder, and a skunk would brush itself against his leg, as a cat would. Veblen would stand or sit quietly for long periods. He was never sentimental concerning 'Nature', never even articulate. He just seemed to consider the human relatively unimportant among living things" (Dorfmann 498). Cf. Ralph Waldo Emerson on Thoreau's uncanny way with wildlife in "Thoreau" (Walden: 266-281), especially 274. Thoreau admired the Indians' intimacy with nature.

Contra Dorfmann, it would take American culture over 50 years, including the suffering of the Great Depression and two World Wars, before it would be in a position to appreciate these Scandinavian ("Norskie") attainments in philosophy and culture. One noteworthy critique of Veblen was that of Theodore Adorao (1941). A distressed Adorno viewed Veblen's criticisms of leisure class conspicuous consumption, pecuniary emulation and costly adornments as reflective of a rigid Puritanism, which would have us rid ourselves of beauty and the adornments of life in the name of a bland functionalism 58 For example, besides revealing the widespread financial shenanigans of the postbellum "Gilded Age", Mark Twain let his readers view life in the antebellum South anew through the innocent eyes of untutored Huckleberry Finn.

232-259. 438. 54 Blake Andrew argument for the control of drugs did not exist in a vacuum: as the above quotation indicates, before 1914 there were many proponents of drug use, who offered a mixture of free-trade imperialism and individual liberalism in defence of trade in both ganja (and other preparations of cannabis) and opium. Through these libertarian positions can be read a cultural relativism which while it often involves a racialisation of drug use, is worth recalling in the light of the massive and arguably unfortunate contemporary investment in the policing of personal pleasures.

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