The weapons that were once outside sharpening themselves on war are now indoors there, in the fortress, fragile in glass cases; Why is it (I'm thinking of the careful moulding round the stonework archways) that in this time, such elaborate defences keep things that are no longer (much) worth defending?
By the disposition of a stupendous wisdom, moulding together the great mysterious incorporation of the human race, the whole, at one time, is never old, or middle-aged, or young; but, in a condition of unchangeable constancy, moves on through the varied tenor of perpetual decay, fall, renovation, and progression.
Is it better to work out consciously and critically one's own conception of the world and thus, in connection with the labours of one's own brain, choose one's sphere of activity, take an active part in the creation of the history of the world, be one's own guide, refusing to accept passively and supinely from outside the moulding of one' own personality?
"ŽA general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another; and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the dominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, an aristocracy, or a majority of the existing generation; in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by a natural tendency to one over the body.
John Stuart Mill
Most people are shaped to the form of their culture because of the enormous malleability of their original endowment. They are plastic to the moulding force of the society into which they are born. It does not matter whether, with the Northwest Coast, it requires delusions of self-reference, or with our own civilization the amassing of possessions. In any case the great mass of individuals take quite readily the form that is presented to them.
All day long the thoughts that occupy your mind, your Secret Place, as Jesus calls it, are moulding your destiny for good or evil; in fact, the truth is that the whole of our life's experience is but the outer expression of inner thought. Now we can choose the sort of thoughts that we entertain. It will be a little difficult to break a bad habit of thought, but it can be done. We can choose how we shall think""in point of fact, we always do choose""and therefore our lives are just the result of the kind of thoughts we have
The two women sat by the fire, tilting their glasses and drinking in small peaceful sips. The lamplight shone upon the tidy room and the polished table, lighting topaz in the dandelion wine, spilling pools of crimson through the flanks of the bottle of plum gin. It shone on the contented drinkers, and threw their large, close-at-hand shadows upon the wall. When Mrs Leak smoothed her apron the shadow solemnified the gesture as though she were moulding an universe. Laura's nose and chin were defined as sharply as the peaks peaks on a holly leaf.
Sylvia Townsend Warner
All that has been said of the importance of individuality of character, and diversity in opinions and modes of conduct, involves, as of the same unspeakable importance, diversity of education. A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another: and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, a priesthood, an aristocracy, or the majority of the existing generation; in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by natural tendency to one over the body. An education established and controlled by the State should only exist, if it exist at all, as one among many competing experiments, carried on for the purpose of example and stimulus, to keep the others up to a certain standard of excellence.
John Stuart Mill
As in the political sphere, the child is taught that he is free, a democrat, with a free will and a free mind, lives in a free country, makes his own decisions. At the same time he is a prisoner of the assumptions and dogmas of his time, which he does not question, because he has never been told they exist. By the time a young person has reached the age when he has to choose (we still take it for granted that a choice is inevitable) between the arts and the sciences, he often chooses the arts because he feels that here is humanity, freedom, choice. He does not know that he is already moulded by a system: he does not know that the choice itself is the result of a false dichotomy rooted in the heart of our culture. Those who do sense this, and who don't wish to subject themselves to further moulding, tend to leave, in a half-unconscious, instinctive attempt to find work where they won't be divided against themselves. With all our institutions, from the police force to academia, from medicine to politics, we give little attention to the people who leave-that process of elimination that goes on all the time and which excludes, very early, those likely to be original and reforming, leaving those attracted to a thing because that is what they are already like. A young policeman leaves the Force saying he doesn't like what he has to do. A young teacher leaves teaching, here idealism snubbed. This social mechanism goes almost unnoticed-yet it is as powerful as any in keeping our institutions rigid and oppressive.
Fanfare for the Makers A cloud of witnesses. To whom? To what? To the small fire that never leaves the sky. To the great fire that boils the daily pot. To all the things we are not remembered by, Which we remember and bless. To all the things That will not notice when we die, Yet lend the passing moment words and wings. So fanfare for the Makers: who compose A book of words or deeds who runs may write As many who do run, as a family grows At times like sunflowers turning towards the light. As sometimes in the blackout and the raids One joke composed an island in the night. As sometimes one man's kindness pervades A room or house or village, as sometimes Merely to tighten screws or sharpen blades Can catch a meaning, as to hear the chimes At midnight means to share them, as one man In old age plants an avenue of limes And before they bloom can smell them, before they span The road can walk beneath the perfected arch, The merest greenprint when the lives began Of those who walk there with him, as in default Of coffee men grind acorns, as in despite Of all assaults conscripts counter assault, As mothers sit up late night after night Moulding a life, as miners day by day Descend blind shafts, as a boy may flaunt his kite In an empty nonchalant sky, as anglers play Their fish, as workers work and can take pride In spending sweat before they draw their pay. As horsemen fashion horses while they ride, As climbers climb a peak because it is there, As life can be confirmed even in suicide: To make is such. Let us make. And set the weather fair. Louis Macneice