Today Jacques Barzun is 30 November 1907 to the Present. Joyeux anniversaire!
See also Contemplating a Masterpiece.
Celebrating Jacques Barzun
Recently I have been revisiting Jacques Barzun's From Dawn to Decadence, and have been struck by the importance of his definition of decadence for what we now see happening in the Western world:
All that is meant by Decadence is "falling off." It implies in those who live in such a time no loss of energy or talent or moral sense. On the contrary , it is a very active time, full of deep concerns, but peculiarly restless, for it sees no clear lines of advance. The loss it faces is that of Possibility. The forms of art as of life seem exhausted, the stages of development have been run through. Institutions function painfully. Repetition and frustration are the intolerable result. Boredom and fatigue are great historical forces.
It is this which we surely see in our own culture, and it is important not just for those of a ‘religious’ persuasion but for us all.
— John P. Richardson, The Ugley Vicar, What Next for the West?