Spring 1952 • Vol. XIV No. 2 NonfictionApril 1, 1952 |

The Style That Does Honor

Sapientis est ordinare: the wise man's gift is for putting things in order. It would be a relief if this were commonly and firmly established as a criterion of art, as well as wisdom. There is an old connection between the two. In the Greek usage, at least in some of Plato and in some passages of Aristotle that may be exoteric—popular, as we should say, rather than technical—we find the notion of wisdom as a "skill" in a sense closely recalling that of the artist. And of putting in order as a skill expected of the artist the Poetics tells pretty clearly. By order we should first understand serial clarity, the succession of distinct things placed so as not to confuse each other. By putting in order we mean doing this, and we also mean observing a certain principle in the succession: first things first, second things second, and so on. And then we must mean applying a consistent rule—or ruling sense—for determining what things are first, what second and so on. If one rule

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