The Literature of Canterbury: Why America needs to embrace being smarter

I have to be critical of the United States in an unusual way, because my trip to Europe lately was not so much for leisure or extravagance, which has certainly been a part of it. It was to tie up loose ends started many decades ago in many facets of my life. If I didn’t enjoy making money, spending time with my family, and shooting guns—I would have been very happy to be a PHD scholar who spends all his time reading and going over old maps musing about the world and where it’s been and where it’s going.  To a smaller extent, I do that with this blog, which many people think is extensive and tenacious—but it is far from where I’d like to be if I could just commit all my time to literature which I would enjoy immensely.  Unfortunately, I can’t—you have to make decisions in life and time is not infinite—as much as it should be.  Literature for me is a hobby, a foundation for my soul and has always been my secret little joy that I do when everyone goes to bed, or runs out to a dance club.  It’s always been like that for me, and it always will.  So when I had a chance to go to Europe, eat at a three Michelan Star Chef Ramsey restaurant in Chelsea, England and live for a while on the streets of Canterbury, England where much of my favorite literature was born—I did it.canterbury13

Before getting too far ahead however, I have to say that if Donald Trump had not been elected president—I would not have taken the trip. This visit to Canterbury is because of Donald Trump.  I see clearly that America avoided a very narrow precipice toward destruction and now there is a significant opportunity for a major cultural shift in America that will lead the world toward better things.  In all actuality, it reminds me of the Roman conquest of Briton and the pagan tribes which attempted to hold them back.  But it was no use, Rome was a superior culture and it moved into the area that would become Canterbury bringing with it a culture that would mold the future of England forever.  Once the Empire united the kingdom with Christianity Rome fell from power and by 500 AD leaving the area ripe for conquest and that’s when the Indo-Europeans (Celts) moved in and took over the culture.  Then the Vikings knocked on the door and by the time St Augustine was writing his City of God and setting up the first religious center in England just outside the city walls of Canterbury in AD 598 Canterbury has emerged as a hotbed of the foundations of what it met to be human.  It inherited an oriental religion from the Romans which destroyed the empire from the inside out—much the way communism has destroyed modern Europe—all collectivist based societies follow the same trend.  You see the Indo-European came from the region of the Black Sea and had exposure for years to the orient which had worked its way around the south of the Mediterranean Sea for a time.  Jesus Christ had picked up on some of this in the desert during his years of formulation developed through wondering until the events which led to his execution for disrupting the political order of the day.  So it was Catholicism that was inserted upon a culture in Briton which collided with the old pagan stories and gave rise to the Arthurian legends, then The Canterbury Tales, and eventually the work of Charles Dickens and a cast of characters in literature that exceeds description.  Many of the most powerful and persuasive literary figures of our modern times—from 500 AD to the present—worked within a 100 miles of Canterbury.  With that in mind dear reader, you might understand the context of this pilgrimage and why it was so important to me.canterbury15

Here I was walking the same streets that Geoffery Chaucer and Charles Dickens had along with the playwright Marlow and I was witnessing something remarkable. The people of England at least from London to the east coast may be a lot of things—but they were at least very literate.  They read books and they enjoyed the English language.  Now to be honest, part of that is that their roads are too small, so they can’t drive anywhere quick, and their television is terrible.  Their art and culture is certainly built on their reputations, not on their present actions but at least they read.  I was in several book stores in Canterbury during my time in living within the city recently and I saw titles that I had never seen displayed simply because people actually buy them in England.  Back home, the Barnes & Noble in West Chester which is quite large, or the same store on Newport on the Levee carry a lot of books, but they are more geared toward the trends of today—the things that sell in America—50 Shades of Grey, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones.  In England, people still read for fun and they do it often—which shows directly in their language.

Even the stupid people in England are smarter than most people in the United States and you can tell that by the way people speak and how their minds frame ideas. In England people naturally treat their language with great emphasis on the intelligence from which it pours forth and they take the time to guard it—where in America we have adopted every slang term imposed on us by every trend that has emerged.  For example, one criticism that many have about me is that I use too many big words when speaking to them.  They think I’m purposely trying to make them feel stupid because they don’t have the same vocabulary range that I do.  But that’s not necessarily the case.  I have read so many books over the years that I speak that way naturally all the time—it is a function of being literate.  Just like a body builder might have big muscles, a person who reads a lot will have a well-defined intellect.  And in England they do.  I heard a homeless person just yesterday uttering rhetoric of insanity about the stars in the sky and he was using words in such a way that the average suburbanite in America never does—because it’s not part of their experience.  The American has given up on literature and actually embraces stupidity to make “others” feel better about their lackluster existence where in England they tend to look at such people as “rubbish” and treat them as such.  They figure if someone isn’t going to learn the proper words for things—then they probably don’t have much value for things and should be discarded.

As I provided this little history lesson to set up this idea, the English language of Canterbury and all the literature that followed was not indigenous to the area. Many cultures rose and fell before Geoffrey Chaucer wrote his masterpiece Canterbury Tales so it’s not like they are preserving some deep history.  It is just the nature of those people to embrace thinking even if the root cause of their economic depravity and lack of scientific invention is rooted in their incursion of an oriental religion—Christianity.  Their foundations into literature at least have elevated their culture to have a solid foundation to build from, and America would do well to adopt those same methods.canterbury14

I went to many museums around London, Paris, and Canterbury and I can report that the children are different from they are in America. Parents still teach their kids things in England and form strong bonds that last their lifetimes whereas in America too much Paris has migrated into our culture there and people are too rootless to teach children much of anything—and that is a mistake.  Intelligence should be celebrated and nurtured, not avoided and pissed upon—and in America we take it for granted.  We celebrate stupidity and it shows in our values for books and the process for learning.

The election of Donald Trump I know is going to make a lot of people unhappy, because like the cultures in Europe conquered by so many superior cultures, this new president is a game changer. He may be viewed in history the way William the Conqueror was in England, or even Napoleon in France.  As much as history baulks at such aggressive characters it is in their wake that great works of art have furthered the human race and the same will now happen in America—the “Trumpian age.”  So part of that new Trumpian age needs to embrace literature.  Trump himself may not be the most literate person in the world, but he doesn’t need to be.  The values that come out of his presidency however could—and that starts with embracing values that are positive and throwing away those that aren’t.  As I said at the beginning of this, if Hillary Clinton were still president, I would not have taken this trip to Europe.  I wouldn’t want to see what the progressives wanted to do to America.  But now I can visit and observe the mistakes and the successes, and bring home the summation of both to apply to American culture.  And the most obvious thing to me is the protection of the written word and elevating its value in our North American culture.   That alone would go a long way to solving many of our national problems—teaching people to read again and to enjoy the process would go a long way to enriching our American life to be the leader of the free world and all those wanting to become free.   It all starts with what you accept in your mind—which therefor comes out in your mouth.  And in Canterbury, England, they still love their literature and for me it was a relief to see.

Rich Hoffman


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