30 November 2010

A Rant (Yes, I'm part of the wider problem)

Oh yes, make no mistake, my friends: We Yanks are in a pretty pickle whichever way we turn. And yet what a rare people of far-sighted vision we are, to be so courageously polarized just as things are starting to heat up round the globe. (But then who could have imagined our stalwart ally, the People's Republic, failing to keep a tighter rein on the North Koreans? Surely it wasn't for want of trying?)

And frankly I couldn't tell you which of our two most popular ways is the more pixillated: Our economically "libertarian" Right or our culturally "liberal" Left. Either way libertinism tends to take liberties, whether it's your neighbor's pocket or her brain you're picking, her soul or her "sexual" life (now there's a modern mockery of a good word). Either way, if history be any indicator - or at least history as far back as one can go (and remember, only Genesis can take us anywhere near that far) - then the upshot of our Future is fairly clear, and the Path well-marked. Moral license, unless arrested, tends to dissolve into moral anarchy, which sooner or later rigidifies into amoral tyranny: it being the nature of Supermen everywhere to (think they can) live beyond good and evil. Although, come to think of it, our Supermen-prototypes of the past 15 years - in banks and elsewhere - had already been doing a pretty fair job of behaving as though they lived in their own moral stratosphere, far, far above ordinary earthly notions of right and wrong.

Oh darn, here I am forgetting again what our New Economists have been prophesying the whole time, and what our pundits have all but proven. Namely that, right under our noses, our recent Present (the World since c. 1995) has been busy mutating into something unrecognizably different from all previous Pasts. Which can only mean that our latest Future will be yet more unrecognizably different from both! Evidently the world is changing at so unintelligibly fast a rate that there's nothing to prevent black from evolving into white! And so what was evil for us on the eve of the Flood may yet become a positive good - or at least a necessity for long-term survival, once, that is, we've devised the physical means of abolishing flooding, and keeping Hell from boiling over. In sum, history - Biblical or otherwise - no longer has much of anything to teach us. And soon enough, my children, it will have nothing to teach us at all.

Or nothing we mortals are able to learn, at any rate. The modern assumption being, as I understand it, that we humans can only make things meaningful and useful in the measure that we reduce them to schemes and patterns of regularity. And since you can never schematize human history to anyone's scientific satisfaction, much less reduce it to some pretty mathematically-governed pattern, why pretend there's anything whatsoever to be learned from it?

To which, frankly, I am tempted to reply: Why you presumptuous buffoon, you can't even reduce your friend - or even your boyfriend - to a pattern known accurately to anyone but God. Is that any reason to ignore him, or pretend he doesn't exist? Or that she has nothing to teach you? No, of course you can't schematize history. But you can sit and steep yourself in its presence, in the quiet shade of the Academic Grove. Or whatever parts of it have not yet been turned to concrete and glass, and plastic, and "profitable" education.

As to whether and how far Time can "heel" unredeemed human nature - why, you might as well pretend evil becomes less wicked the "better" we get at controlling physical reality. Oh, I'll admit wickedness may actually get more rational and efficient as we proceed down that road, in addition to seeming more abundantly profitable and "results-oriented." "See, we've even found a productive use for sin." But will that make it any less cruel, less heartless, less soul-destroying than it was, say, in the days of the Giants and "mighty men"? or of Nimrod? or of Tubal-cain?

I'll tell you what image comes most readily to mind when I think of this present generation of global leaders. It is that of a gang of precocious, irreverent, smart-assed, ingeniously destructive "kids," whose specialty is the vandalizing of cemeteries and monuments (with the "exception" of a select few from the 18th century: Thomas Paine's burial plaque in particular - "We have it in our power to begin the world over again" - assuming the reverently garlanded-and-graffiti'd look of a Jim Morrison-of-the-Doors shrine). A right promising pack of bright young thugs, who, having trashed the better part of the Father's Estate, and finding nowhere else to play, are now to be seen drifting - inadvertently but quite steadily - ever closer to the mouth of a certain Beast's cave.

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