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Ernest Gellner

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I am deeply sensitive to the spell of nationalism. I can play about thirty Bohemian folk songs ... on my mouth-organ. My oldest friend, who is Czech and a patriot, cannot bear to hear me play them because he says I do it in such a schmalzy way, 'crying into the mouth organ'. I do not think I could have written the book on nationalism which I did write, were I not capable of crying, with the help of a little alcohol, over folk songs, which happen to be my favourite form of music.
"Reply to Critics" in The Social Philosophy of Ernest Gellner

Ernest Gellner

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Be serious. Folk songs are serious. That's what Pete Seeger told me. "Arlo, I only wanna tell you one thing. Folk songs are serious." And I said "Right."

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A professional entertainer who allows himself to become known as a singer of folk songs is bound to have trouble with his conscience—provided, of course, that he possesses one. As a performing artist, he will pride himself on timing and other techniques designed to keep the audience in his control [...] his respect for genuine folklore reminds him that these changes, and these techniques, may give the audience a false picture of folk music.

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