Raymond Williams (1921-1988)

Fiona MacCarthy: William Morris (1994) Chapter Three: Oxford 1853-5:

“(John) Ruskin challenged the traditional view that a designer should not also be a maker; it seemed to him unsatisfactory to the point of immorality for one man’s thoughts to be executed by another man’s hands. His most startling proposals arose from what he saw as an incorrect distinction between manual labour and intellect:

“We are always in these days endeavouring to separate the two; we want one man to be always thinking, and another to be always working, and we call one a gentleman, and the other an operative; whereas the workman ought often to be thinking, and the thinker often to be working, and both should be gentlemen, in the best sense.”

Leaving aside the “gentlemen”, this statement is so radical that it still strikes one as relatively modern: Eric Gill preached something like it in the 1930s and so did Raymond Williams in the 1960s.”

Paul Evans: How to See Nature (2018):

“…Gardening is the performance of the movement of Nature into culture. That particular performance is the link between cultivation and civilisation. The result is neither entirely natural nor entirely cultural but a chimera of the two…

…These favoured species have become collateral damage in a war against garden slugs, aphids, ants, wasps, fungi, moss and the weeds Richard Mabey describes as, “plants that find themselves in the wrong culture”…

Joshua Rothman (December 26, 2014) Cultural Comment In The New Yorker:

“The critic Raymond Williams, in his souped-up dictionary, “Keywords,” writes that “culture” has three divergent meanings: there’s culture as a process of individual enrichment, as when we say that someone is “cultured” (in 1605, Francis Bacon wrote about “the culture and manurance of minds”); culture as a group’s “particular way of life,” as when we talk about French culture, company culture, or multiculturalism; and culture as an activity, pursued by means of the museums, concerts, books, and movies that might be encouraged by a Ministry of Culture (or covered on a blog like this one). These three senses of culture are actually quite different, and, Williams writes, they compete with one another. Each time we use the word “culture,” we incline toward one or another of its aspects: toward the “culture” that’s imbibed through osmosis or the “culture” that’s learned at museums, toward the “culture” that makes you a better a person or the “culture” that just inducts you into a group.

There’s a historical sense, too, in which “culture” is a polemical word. In the nineteenth century, Williams explains, “culture” was often opposed to “civilization.” Civilization, the thinking went, was a homogenizing system of efficient, rational rules, designed to encourage discipline and “progress.” Culture was the opposite: an unpredictable expression of human potential for its own sake. (It’s for this reason that a term like “the culture industry” has an oxymoronic ring.) Today, we don’t often use the word “civilization”— we prefer to talk, more democratically, in terms of culture—but we’re still conflicted. We can’t help but notice how “civilized” life seems both to facilitate culture and to deaden it. Museums make it easy to see art, but they also weigh it down. Rock and roll sounds better in a club than in a concert hall.”