Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Growing Up on a Farm | Herbert Read

From the autobiography of British art theorist Sir Herbert Read, The Contrary Experience. New York: Horizon Press, 1963, pp. 22-23—

But the scenes [of growing up on a farm] that I have described, and many others of the same nature, such as the searing of horses' tails, the killing of poultry, the birth of cattle, even the lewdness of a half-witted laborer, were witnessed by us children with complete passivity—just as I have seen children of the same age watching a bullfight in Spain quite unmoved by its horrors. Pity, and even terror are emotions which develop when we are no longer innocent, and the sentimental adult who induces such emotions in the child is probably breaking through defenses which nature has wisely put round the tender mind. The child even has a natural craving for horrors. He survives just because he is without sentiment, for only in this way can his green heart harden sufficiently to withstand the wounds that wait for it.