“In that age, too, began the doubt as to whether this man or that was ‘grown-up,’ which has ever since occupied so deeply the minds of those interested in their friends. Macaulay complains somewhere that in his day a man was sure to be accused of a child-mind if no doubt could be cast ‘either on the ability of his intelligence or the innocence of his character’; now nobody seems to have said this in the eighteenth century. Before the Romantic Revival the possibilities of not growing up had never been exploited so far as to become a subject for popular anxiety.”
"(He who says he is tearing up his prepared address to talk to you extemporaneously about what it is like to address you or what it is like to write talks, or to formulate sentences in the first place, has torn up the wrong prepared address.)"
— Erving Goffman, "The Lecture" in Forms of Talk, 162
"The eccentricity of Johnson's writing is that of a resoundingly public discourse which is nevertheless profoundly self-involved … Johnson is both grandly generalizing sage and ‘proletarianized’ hack; and it is the dialectical relation between these incongruous aspects of his work which is most striking.The social alienations of the latter can be found in displaced form in the involuted meditations of the former; and not only in displaced form, for one of Johnson’s recurrent motifs is precisely the hazards and frustrations of authorship in a literary mode of production ruled by the commodity.Stripped of material security, the hack critic compensates for and avenges such ignominy in the sententious authority of his flamboyantly individualist style.Moralistic, melancholic and metaphysical, Johnson’s writing addresses itself to the social world (he had, Boswell reports, ‘a great deference for the general opinion’) in the very moment of spurning it; he is, as Leslie Stephen notes, the moralist who ‘looks indeed at actual life, but stands well apart and knows many hours of melancholy.’The sage has not yet been driven to renounce social reality altogether; but there are in Johnson ominous symptoms, for all his personal sociability, of a growing dissociation between the literary intellectual and the material mode of production he occupies.”
"What choice can we claim over the writing, or the voice — sometimes it is manifested in a phrase — that carries conviction for us? It is not much help to say: Conviction should not be taken seriously that is not justified by argument. That sounds more like a threat (in my hearing it has typically been more than that) than like part of an argument. And then there lingers the feeling that those who recommend the look of argumentation often regard themselves as already knowing the conclusions for which they are inclined to argue. Where is the intellectual adventure, or advance, in that?"
— Stanley Cavell, Little Did I Know: Excerpts from Memory, 344