Eclectic friends

Watching television these days one cannot avoid the provocation that everyone has suddenly become multi-racial or multi-something. The trend is clearly to diversity. Almost to a fault. What more politic manner to address that awakening and sometimes indiscriminate variety than by characterising it as eclectic.

Methods, beliefs, ideas, etc. that are eclectic combine whatever seem the best or most useful things from many different areas or systems, rather than following a single system.

Forgive my reservation but I can’t but think so much of this widened view of the world is a long delayed reaction to the recent advertisement of its most flagrant weaknesses. For whatever reason popular currency now embraces minority to an astonishing degree. Indeed so rampant is the preoccupation that some suggest it is beyond tolerance.  It is normal that novelty always has its obstructionists. Who among us isn’t an unwitting creature of habit or the subordinate to culture?

Accommodation of any degree is work except for the most insightful. For the rest of us the challenge is not only absorption but mere endurance. It requires not only universality but more acutely native or studied awareness. Still we have to rise above the platitudes of freedom and world peace which can get bred into the vernacular for mercenary reasons only.

it occurs to me that just as there is often longstanding isolation even among members of one’s immediate family, the inspiration to unite with others of more remote acquaintance is less alluring. I suspect many groups – whether minorities or majorities – have already decided out of exhaustion to isolate themselves from one another. For those who cannot afford the privilege of singularity – or for those who wish to remove themselves from a so-called singularity that is offensive or intolerable  – the only choice is to push for improvement. The consequence has at times been an exponential overindulgence in compromise which occasionally reaches the height of mesmerised biblical submission. It may engender mistrust or mockery.

As a result the march towards blending of difference hasn’t always been motivated by gusto. Choosing the best of any lot requires an element of refinement or elimination. It is after all a distillation whatever the objective. Nonetheless in spite of the patently egregious features which might initially spice the mix, the simmering often imbues a palatable digestion.

It warrants admission that a measure of the contamination to eclectic reunion is the unwillingness of people to acknowledge their own inadequacy – rather than simply dwelling upon token enlargement of others. If the process is thus mistakenly founded on an improper or illogical premise it follows that the deduction is infected.


From that day (1641) dates the corporate existence of the two great parties which have ever since alternately governed the country. In one sense, indeed, the distinction which then became obvious had always existed, and always must exist. For it has its origin in diversities of temper, of understanding, and of interest, which are found in all societies, and which will be found till the human mind ceases to be drawn in opposite directions by the charm of habit and by the charm of novelty. Not only in politics but in literature, in art, in science, in surgery and mechanics, in navigation and agriculture, nay, even in mathematics, we find this distinction. Everywhere there is a class of men who cling with fondness to whatever is ancient, and who, even when convinced by overpowering reasons that innovation would be beneficial, consent to it with many misgivings and forebodings. We find also everywhere another class of men, sanguine in hope, bold in speculation, always pressing forward, quick to discern the imperfections of whatever exists, disposed to think lightly of the risks and inconveniences which attend improvements and disposed to give every change credit for being an improvement. In the sentiments of both classes there is something to approve. But of both the best specimens will be found not far from the common frontier. The extreme section of one class consists of bigoted dotards: the extreme section of the other consists of shallow and reckless empirics.

Excerpt From
The History of England, from the Accession of James II — Volume 1
Thomas Babington Macaulay Macaulay