Vital Signs

Making the Whole

World England

As a race, the British are considered neither the most intellectual nor the most artistic, Britain’s role in the invention of modern physics (Newton) and modern painting (Turner) notwithstanding.  Yet their ability to make cultural icons of near-universal appeal is second to none.  Quite apart from the philosophical contributions of Locke and Burke and Hume and Mill, apart from the breakthroughs of Faraday and Jenner and Rutherford, apart from the human liberation presaged by Magna Carta and the Glorious Revolution and Wilberforce, the British people have shown a genius for touching and stirring the hearts of millions in a way no other nation has managed since the impact of Greek and Roman imagery on the then (much smaller) known world.  A perfectly delightful whimsy, an eccentricity that concentrates the mind wonderfully, and a deep-archetypal imagination combine to make them the world’s premier storytellers, masters of the common touch.  

Of course, English-speakers do not seem to care about the provenance of our imaginative fare so long as it be succulent, and, in our insatiable appetite for a good story, we have scoured the globe for centuries in quest of translatable delicacies.  Still, other peoples have not added to the global store of fantasy nearly as voluminously as have the British.

The power of the British imagination plays a major role in the hegemony of English today as...

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