Now that the schools have more or less abandoned the responsibility, passing judgment on speech has become semi-institutionalized in our society in the columns and commentaries of the so-called 'pop grammarians.' The label is a little unfair, since talking about talk is, or ought to be, a kind of right of cultural citizenship.
A new book and news accounts from San Clemente depict Richard Nixon as he appeared to one of his White House writers before Watergate destroyed his presidency and as he is in exile and nearly total seclusion six months after his resignation. The book is William Safire's Before the Fall (Doubleday; $12.50).
The Savage Mind by Claude Levi-Strauss Translated by George Weidenfeld The certainty that the boundaries of one's society define the frontiers of humanity--that all societies outside the boundary are thereby equally outside the pale of reason, mere clusters of gibbering savages--is curiously widespread. In the Western world, the certainty takes the form of a grand dichotomy, and all of mankind is split into two mutually exhaustive and contrastive camps, the primitive and the civilized.