Home » Languages » English (Sr. Secondary) » Solved Exercise for Precis writing with Title “Effortless Pleasures A Great Menace to Civilization” Precis for Class 9, 10, 11, 12 and Higher classes.

Solved Exercise for Precis writing with Title “Effortless Pleasures A Great Menace to Civilization” Precis for Class 9, 10, 11, 12 and Higher classes.

Passages with Solved Precis

The dangers which confront our civilization are not so much the external dangers—wild men, wars and the bankruptcy that wars bring after them. The most alarming dangers are those which menace it from within, that threaten the mind rather than the body and estate of contemporary man.

Of all the various poisons which modern civilization by a process of auto-intoxication, brews quietly up within its own bowls, few, it seems to me, are more deadly (while none appears more harmless) than that curious and appalling thing that is technically known as ‘pleasure’, ‘Pleasure’ (I place the word between inverted commas to show that I mean, not real pleasure, but the organized activities officially known by the same name). ‘Pleasure’ — what nightmare visions the word evokes! Like every man of sense and good feeling, I abominate work. But I would rather put in eight hours a day at a Government office than be condemned to lead a life of ‘pleasure’; I would even, I believe, prefer to write a million words of journalism a year.

The horrors of modern ‘pleasure’ arise from the fact that every kind of organized distraction tends to become progressively more and more imbecile. There was a time when people indulged themselves with distractions requiring the expense of a certain intellectual effort. In the seventeenth century, for example, royal personages and their courtiers took a real delight in listening to erudite sermons (Dr. Doune’s, for example) and academicals disputes on points of theology or metaphysics.

Royal personages were not the only people who enjoyed intelligent pleasures. In Elizabethan times every lady and gentleman of ordinary culture could be relied upon, at demand, to take his or her part in a madrigal or a motet. Those who know the enormous complexity and subtlety of sixteenth-century music will realize what this means. To indulge in their favourite pastime our ancestors had to exert their minds to an uncommon degree. Even the uneducated vulgar delighted in pleasures requiring the exercise of a certain intelligence, individuality and personal initiative. They listened, for example, to. Othello, King Lear and Hamlet–apparently with enjoyment and comprehension. They sang and made much music. And far away, in the remote country, the peasants, year by year, went through the traditional rites-the dances of spring and summer, the winter mumming’s, the ceremonies of harvest home—appropriate to each successive season. Their pleasures were intelligent and alive, and it was they who, by their own efforts, entertained themselves.

We have changed all that. In place of the old pleasures demanding intelligence and personal initiative, we have vast organizations that provide us with ready-made distractions—distractions which demand from pleasure seekers no personal participation and no intellectual effort of any sort. To the interminable democracies of the world a million cinemas bring the same state balderdash. There have always been fourth-rate writes and dramatists; but their works, in the past, quickly died without getting beyond the boundaries of the city or the country in which they appeared. Today, the inventions of the scenario-writer go out from Los Angeles across the whole world. Countless audiences soak passively in the tepid bath of nonsense. No mental effort is demanded of them, no participation; they need only sit and keep their eyes open.

Do the democracies want music? In the old days would have made it themselves. Now, they merely turn on the gramophone. Or if they are a little more up-to -date they adjust their wireless telephone to the right wavelength and listen-in to the fruity contralto at Marconi House singing ‘The Gleaner’s Slumber Song’, and if they want literature; there is the Press. Nominally, it is true, the Press exists to impart information. But its real function is to provide, like the cinema, a distraction which shall occupy the mind without demanding of it the slightest effort or the fatigue of a single thought. This function, it must be admitted, it fulfils with an extraordinary success. It is possible to go on for years and years, reading two papers every working day and one on Sundays without ever once being called upon to think or to make any other effort than to move the eyes, not very attentively, down the printed column.

Certain sections of the community still practice athletic sports in which individual participation is demanded. Great numbers of the middle and upper classes play golf and tennis in person and, if they are sufficiently rich, shoot birds and pursue the fox and go skiing in the Alps. But the vast mass of the community has now come even to sport vicariously, preferring the watching of football to the fatigues and dangers of the actual game. All classes, it is true, still dance; but dance, all the world over, the same steps to the same tunes. The dance has been scrupulously sterilized of any local or personal individuality.

These effortless pleasures, these ready-made distractions that are the same for everyone over the face of the whole Western world, are surely a worse menace to our civilization than ever the Germans were. The working hours of the day are already, for the great majority of human beings, occupied in the performance of purely mechanical talkies in which no mental effort, no individuality, no initiative are required. And now, in the hours of leisure, we turn to distractions as mechanically stereotyped and demanding as little intelligence and initiative as does our work. Add such leisure to such work and the sum is a perfect day which it is a blessed relief to come to the end of.

Self-poisoned in this fashion, civilization looks as though it might easily decline into a kind of premature senility. With a mind almost atrophied by lack of use, unable to entertain itself and grown go wearily uninterested in the ready-made distractions offered from without that nothing but the grossest stimulants of an ever-increasing violence and crudity can move it, the democracy of the future will sicken of a chronic and mortal boredom. It will go, perhaps, the way the Romans went: the Romans who came at last to lose, precisely as we are doing now, the capacity to distract themselves; the Romans who, like us, lived on ready-made entertainments in which they had no participation. Their deadly ennui demanded ever more gladiators, more tightrope-walking elephants, more rare and far-fetched animals to be slaughtered. Ours would demand no less; but owing to the existence of a few idealists, doesn’t get all it asks for. The roost violent forms of entertainment can only be obtained illicitly: – to satisfy a taste for slaughter and cruelty you must become a member of the KuKlux Klan. Let us not despair, however; the force of a boredom clamouring to be alleviated may yet prove too much for the idealists.


Effortless Pleasures A Great Menace to Civilization

The greatest dangers to our civilization are internal and threaten the mind of the modem man. They lie in the seemingly innocent pleasures which emanate from the various activities organized for that purpose and do not require any intellectual effort on the part of the pleasure-seekers. The writer, though not opposed to real pleasure, would prefer dull drudgery at an office to these imbecile pleasures.

In the past people indulged in pleasures involving intellectual effort. In the seventeenth century kings and courtiers enjoyed listening to learned sermons and academic disputations on theology and metaphysics. In the Elizabethan age common people could participate in music and dance, however complex and subtle these were. They could enjoy the great poetry of the plays of Shakespeare. Even the seasonal ceremonies of the peasants in the remote countryside, like the dances of spring and summer and the winter mummeries required the exercise of intelligence, individuality and personal initiative. Thus they entertained themselves by their own efforts.

Now everything is changed. Cheap cinemas scripted by fourth-rate dramatists whose writings should have perished soon in the past, have a world-wide circulation. Cheap nonsensical trash is purveyed on a large scale and is received passively by countless audiences. Music in the past was creative and was made by the people themselves. Now they turn on the gramophone or listen-in to the cheap songs from their radio-sets. For literature they turn to newspapers which instead of being sources of information provide distraction, eliminating the need for any intellectual effort. In games only a few practice athletic sports like golf and tennis, bird shooting, foxhunting, or skiing but a vast majority is satisfied with watching others at play in football and receiving vicarious pleasure. Dance has lost its individuality.

Like our labours which for a large majority consist in the performance of purely mechanical tasks, our pleasures too have become mechanical, thus increasing the monotony of life. This spells a great danger to our civilization because it has generated universal boredom which has necessitated more and stronger stimulants erupting into ever-increasing violence and crudity. The Roman Empire decayed because the Romans lost the capacity to distract themselves and started demanding more and more violent entertainments like gladiatorial fights, tightrope-walking elephants and more far-fetched animals to be slaughtered. We are facing a similar situation and even our idealists may not be able to arrest this process of mental decay.


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