The conviction is now widespread, for instance, that “a work of art” has no purpose but to be itself. Or if it is allowed that a poem, for instance, has a meaning, then it is a meaning peculiar to its author, its time, or its convention. A poem, in short, is a relic as soon as it is composed; it can be taught, but it cannot teach. The issue of its truth and pertinence is not raised because literary study is conducted with about the same anxiety for ‘control’ as is scientific study. . . . My impression is that the great works are taught less and less as Ananda Coomaraswamy said they should be: with the recognition ‘that nothing will have been accomplished unless men’s lives are affected and their values changed by what we have to show.’ My impression is that in the humanities as in the sciences the world is increasingly disallowed as a context. I hope that my country may be delivered from the objectivity of the humanities.
Wendell Berry, “An Argument for Diversity,” What Are People For?