A brief summary of Sidgwick's discussion of the "ignobility
" of egoistic hedonism appears on page 199.
The mark of Anglo-Saxon or Germanic genius is "steadiness with honesty," which, unless cross-cultivated with Celtic "beauty and amorousness," threatens to produce plainness, ugliness, and ignobility
: "in a word, das Gemeine, die Gemeinheit, that curse of Germany against which Goethe was all his life fighting" (78-79).
Frank's bestial anger suddenly showed us all our own baseness, the ignobility
that we bad sought, through all our bravado and banter, to overpaint with self-importance.
However, the patron subsequently delivers an impassioned speech on the ignobility
of human nature and the dispossession of blacks caused by the institution of slavery.
In acting against the Martiall behind his back--and by articulating their own jealousy at his good fortune--they represent both the ignobility
and poor advice often found at court among a monarch's advisors.
Jefferson offers a scathing critique of the evolving world of Michael Jackson--who rose from child prodigy to biggest star in the world to relative ignobility
. Jackson's rise and fall, Jefferson points out, may say as much about society as it does about him.
I am, however, concerned that what is strangest and most bracing about his work--his conviction in the basic ignobility
of humankind--is frequently whitewashed in the endorsements of his supporters.
Gothic and Illuminating the Renaissance were two steps into the advancing mists of an ever-receding past; or two pasts sometimes fusing and sometimes dividing: the piety of private religious devotion, and the ignobility
of the Hundred Years' War, with its vain destruction that spread into the Wars of the Roses; not merely a mist but a miasma through which Richard the Third ferreted and slaughtered.
As Sorrentino's narrator typically remarks at one point, "If there is one controlling factor that today informs our lives (outside of ignobility
, of course), that factor must be greed" (164).