Friday, January 1, 2016

Reflections in Passing

It is a triumph of education and a victory of the understanding to see the world as a vast and comprehensive hospice and, accordingly, to credit triage as the foremost of human obligations, the noblest of its professions.

I have been indoctrinated (as indeed I imagine have we all) to hold that diversity is a virtue, a bedrock value of American consciousness and a wellspring of national strength. I have my doubts. That America comprises a myriad of races, of nationalities, of religions, of souls across vast ranges of development and education is certain and confirmed by the simplest observation. But that this diversity is, in and of itself, virtuous, valuable, or strengthening is much more open to question. Several weeks of steady attention to the evening news is all that is needed to prompt a contemplative pause, and a single full lifetime's disjunct recollections --- sixty, seventy, eighty years' worth --- is, for some souls, sufficient to bring thought itself nearly to a dead halt: a diversity of fools is no paradise.

There is a difference between an ideology and a faith: an ideology constellates around a thought, a faith around a Being. We fail to make the distinction at our peril.

          In a democracy the electorate always gets the government that it wants, and therefore in a democracy the electorate always gets the government it deserves. Consequently, the only hope for a democracy lies in the virtue of the electorate...and in our democracy conversations about the nature of virtue are exceedingly difficult and usually degenerate into fistfights or petty squabbles over law. These we call politics.

It is indicative of the decline of the age through which we move that our effort to understand ourselves now prompts us to look no further than to a comprehensive analysis of our individual DNA to reveal to us who we truly are, to settle our identity and thus to calm our inner insecurity...a vanity now sufficiently progressed to make commercially viable an industry devoted to the provision of such analysis on demand. Money moves the world toward the actualization of our every whim, mindless of any value save the fiscal and, in consequence of such inclination to the ephemeral, time relegates each of us to the life appropriate to the level of our ignorance.

What our science styles evolution is really just a very long and very thorough education, the most widely diffuse and entirely public form thereof, painful, protracted, and ultimately certain.

The sage who speculated that an infinite number of monkeys banging away on an equal number of typewriters would produce the entire Shakespearian opus failed to foresee the development of social media, a vehicle which makes the thought experiment actual (only authorship differing) and exponentially accelerates the process, producing thereby not Hamlet but at best a rare coherent thought, a solitary worthy sentence.

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