If you have ventured this far, you are welcome. There is a bit of a caveat, however, in that you may find that this was not written for you. Rather, it was written for “us”, meaning all of us, but only insofar as my own perspective will allow me to write for that. So should you find what follows distasteful or unpleasant, please feel free to move on in peace. You should invest your reading time where you wish, and I will never have any desire to hold people here against their will. Please be free, but know that abusive comments will be deleted and those who make them will be exiled. All of this is meant to be ultimately supportive, but this forum is also, in the end, not a democracy.
Is there a caution to abandon hope? Does hope linger amongst the flowers growing in the churchyard? Snowdrops? Wild iris? Do we remember them? The flowers? The dead?
We have abandoned them in many senses. Not just because they have crossed a river that we have not, but also because we continue to abandon them everyday. The dead slip away from us in perpetuity. We may be “boats against the current”, but their boats have been carried away leaving only moonlight and ripples behind them.
And their ideas? What ideas are those? Education in the United States increasingly becomes an education of trades. Scholars steadily become figures of the past like knights or frontiersmen and women. In sacrificing our democratic republic before the throne of corporate oligarchy, our schools and our universities have become like corporations, selling to demand, selling to the highest bidders, selling to the wealthy at the expense of the poor. The erosion of scholarship before the ascendancy of trade has much to do with currency being the only real currency in the realm.
Who gives a damn about knowing deeply about such things as history, literature, classics, or philosophy? These things have seldom lined a pocket well except when veneered with gaudy spectacle. Bread and circuses? Juvenal was right. We love watching fireworks, and we love how television takes us away night after night.
We’ve forgotten the flowers. There may be fairies in the garden, good neighbors, but we don’t give a damn. Things of darkness anyway. Not that there’s even time to go there.
Practical becomes the god at whose altar we sacrifice stupid romance, and foolish mysticism. Some or other book will tell us about the afterlife, and we will go to some or other house of worship once a week, maybe, to hear someone speak loosely constructed life lessons to us, and we will be better. We will be moral. We will be whole. With that and a high paying job and a 401k or an IRA, and maybe a 529 account for good measure (if we have offspring).
That and a decent sized car. And a smart phone so we never have to leave the news or the weather, and so we can reach others every minute of every day.
Mind you, trades are great. They keep things running. We need plumbers and steel workers, and people to fix the robots on the automotive assembly line. We need nurses and doctors and (yes, damn it) we need lawyers too. It is no stain to work amongst the ranks of those whose mission is to make things work more easily for others.
Yet, there is an alarming, silent migration away from scholarly learning, in the U.S. and in the wider world too. University buildings dedicated to the arts and humanities echo like the mausoleums they are becoming. And who can blame the students? No one (or very few) can make a living out of those subjects. You cannot easily build a comfortable house with paper. And what does it lose the birds to move on to new water holes when the old ones have dried into extinction?
Only that then there are no more birds where once there were. (So? Things change all the time. You can’t stop change. You can’t stop progress.) And the birds arguably add a breadth and depth to the tapestry of nature that, once they have gone, becomes difficult to recreate or recapture. Those threads pulled from the fabric tend to fray in complicated ways–ways that are difficult to define or immediately perceive.
We do perceive them though, eventually. Blank stares in the aisles of stores (where we trade with increasingly consolidating corporate giants for our goods–for our food, our clothes, our daily supplies). We seek the good summer read and find that many novels have become somehow bland or banal. Food too. Remember how it used to taste? Remember how it snowed each winter?
In all this, it is too much work to tango with Nietzsche’s long and complicated thinking, wrangle with Shakespeare’s obsolete and often difficult language. We work too hard already. I’m tired at the end of the day. Give me something entertaining and something that won’t make me work too hard to understand it. Something simple, even banal. Television or the summer novel. And bring me cake or chips while you’re at it. Even a beer. I just need to sit for a few minutes.
That’s where we seem to be. Perched on the edge of a new Dark Ages where opinion or bluster trump facts and understanding. Too dramatic? Of course. A new Dark Ages? That will never happen. The world always changes and there are always those who will be dissatisfied and non-adaptive. Whiners will always weep about moving on, they will always throw themselves in front of the rolling boulders of progress, trying to deny entrance to that lovely conciliatory giant wooden horse.
All I know is that dinner time draws near. Other thoughts, or any resolution, will have to wait until next time.