WE CALL IT READING A BOOK: In dumbness is the end of the world!

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2021

Norman O. Brown got it right: It was our former neighbor Thoreau who said it, though it's sometimes misquoted:

"In wildness is the preservation of the world."

No, he didn't say "wilderness." But that tiny misquotation is certainly close enough.

Our neighbor Thoreau made this remark in his lecture-turned-essay, Walking. As part of the essay, he also made the highlighted remark, as was his perhaps unfortunate wont:

I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least—and it is commonly more than that—sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements. You may safely say, A penny for your thoughts, or a thousand pounds. When sometimes I am reminded that the mechanics and shopkeepers stay in their shops not only all the forenoon, but all the afternoon too, sitting with crossed legs, so many of them—as if the legs were made to sit upon, and not to stand or walk upon—I think that they deserve some credit for not having all committed suicide long ago. 

Our neighbor had a tendency to extend such left-handed sympathy to those who worked for a living. In Walden, this tendency produced one of his most widely-quoted remarks:

"The mass of men [sic] lead lives of quiet desperation."

Do you ever wonder how such statements may have sounded to that "mass of men" as they led their lives of desperation? As they received a type of credit for not having taken their own lives?

We don't know how our neighbor's statements sounded to the masses of his own time. That said, we've thought of these statements in the past few days as we've reviewed the way the elites of Our Own Blue Tribe are conducting themselves in public.

"In wildness is the preservation of the world," our neighbor once said. Unfortunately, in cluelessness is its possible termination. 

Each morning this week, often as we peruse the devolving on-line version of the Washington Post, we've been stunned by the overpowering dumbness. We refer to the dumbness which currently sits in the saddle and rides the  humankind which almost seems to be working, around the clock, to ensure that Trumpism triumphs.

To our ear, the cluelessness of our current blue elite is widespread and ever-present. For those who wonder how a person like Trump could possibly have received so many votes, we'll only say that the answer may be easier to see for those who are willing to look.

To our ear, the cluelessness to which we refer is cluelessness all the way down.  Each day, it's more haughty and more potent, and we'll guess it's more counterproductive.

After perusing the on-line Post and a few of Our Town's other journals, we've been finding it hard to proceed with the project we've been planning. We'd planned to proceed with the reading of a "most important" book—a book whose author said this in his preface:

"I should have liked to produce a good book. That has not come about."

After perusing Our Town's journals, we keep finding it impossible to proceed with that task.

A number of years ago, we began quoting Norman O. Brown from the street-fighting 1960s. Brown was very hot at the time. At one point, he offered this:

BROWN (1966): I sometimes think I see that societies originate in the discovery of some secret, some mystery; and end in exhaustion when there is no longer any secret, when the mystery has been divulged, that is to say profaned...And so there comes a time—I believe we are in such a time—when civilization has to be renewed by the discovery of some new mysteries, by the undemocratic but sovereign power of the imagination, by the undemocratic power which makes poets the unacknowledged legislators of all mankind, the power which makes all things new.

We can't say that we understand what Brown was talking about in that passage. That said, he plainly was saying this:

Absent the discovery of "new mysteries," he said we might be at the point when our society is going to "end in exhaustion." Reading the efforts of Our Town's thought leaders, we keep suspecting that Brown, a classicist by training, may have had it right.

About a decade ago, this statement began showing up in our dreams, and so we began to cite it. We don't think it's ever been so clear that those new mysteries haven't been discovered, and most likely aren't going to be.

In wildness is the preservation of the world? Possibly so, but in tribal cluelessness may lie a society's termination.

We'll try to return to our project next week. Perhaps we need to stop perusing Our Blue Town's journals in the morning. To our ear, the cluelessness we keep encountering in those places is making a mockery of everything else. It's newly surprising each day.

Why aren't we posting examples today? Simple! We can hear the tribals responding! We know what the tribals will say!

As The Others show the world every day, there's no way to talk a true believer out of a tribal true belief. Also, we can hear the experts and scholars as they keep telling us this:

As humans, we're wired to produce tribal dogmas as we make our way towards our latest war. And when we blue voters produce our own (unintelligent) dogmas, we harden The Others in theirs.

In fairness, our brains are wired this way, or so the top experts have said. It's painful to read the present-day Post. To our ear, the tribal dumbness being churned within Our Town just keeps getting worse and worse.

The tribal dumbness, how it burns! Their tribal dumbness, and ours!


41 comments:

  1. "In dumbness is the end of the world!"

    Meh. Western civilization survived the Holy Inquisition, dear Bob, and it'll almost certainly survive your liberal-hitlerian cult too.

    This too shall pass. Cheer up, dear.

    ReplyDelete
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  2. For the record: are out of state visitors aware that PARKING at Walden is $30?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

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    2. "Walden Pond was designated a National Historic Landmark because of Thoreau's legacy, and is considered the birthplace of the modern conservation movement. Walden Pond State Reservation is owned and managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, and includes 462 acres of protected open space."

      Obviously Cecelia is unaware of the extent to which Trump cut the national park budget. Most national parks are now requiring reservations (due to covid) and charging large amounts for parking, including at picnic grounds. What else are they going to do with no budget?

      This is one of the things I would really like to see reversed, since our national parks should be a resource acessible to all citizens regardless of income. It is surely a good thing to encourage parents to take their kids to our parks, and how can they do that when it costs so much?

      But Cecelia doesn't think. She just thinks it is cute to quote Joni Mitchell, out of context, as if Mitchell would approve of what Trump has done to our country!

      Delete
    3. Joni Mitchell called. She says you’re a ridiculous gasbag.

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    4. "Most national parks are now requiring reservations (due to covid) and charging large amounts for parking, including at picnic grounds"

      Lies

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    5. Try visiting one.

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    6. Yosemite: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/permitsandreservations.htm

      Zion National Park:
      https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/backpackinginfo.htm

      Rocky Mountain National Park:
      https://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/timed-entry-permit-system.htm

      It now costs around $35 to enter a national park.

      Delete
    7. National forests charge too -- anytime you stop you need a paid permit -- but this started long before Trump.

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  3. "We refer to the dumbness which currently sits in the saddle and rides the humankind which almost seems to be working, around the clock, to ensure that Trumpism triumphs."

    More than half of Trump voters think that the creator of the universe talks to guys like this:

    https://www.christianpost.com/news/kenneth-copeland-asks-for-money-for-private-jet.html

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    Replies
    1. That’s dumb as heck, but theyre not the best and brightest of conservatives.

      On the other hand liberal Mensa members think that men can have babies.

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    2. That may be dumb as heck, but so are many of the vaccine mandates the guy is ranting about. And those mandates certainly do more harm than Mr Copeland could ever have done.

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    3. Mensa as an organization holds no such opinions. Member hold a wide variety of opinions, some very odd, but the purpose of the group is open discussion, not suppression of anyone's beliefs.

      It would be helpful if you were to tell us who and what was said, but I can be very sure that there is (1) no such thing as liberal Mensa, just members who hold a variety of political views all along the spectrum, (2) Mensa members as a group believe no such thing, since Mensa holds no opinions and only exists as a forum to discuss whatever members find interesting.

      Finally, I am liberal and I am a Mensa member, and I believe that in order for a man to have a baby, he would need the right body parts, but that has nothing to do with a person's gender identity. Cecelia, many Mensa members are aware that there exist people who are nominally male or female who have both sets of genitalia, from birth, because human physiology is variable and nature produces variations (which is part of how evolution results in change).

      But you make these negative statements without thinking at all about what they mean, and you make yourself sound like a very ignorant person, both about Mensa and where babies can come from.

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    4. You just wrote a lecture of four large paragraphs in response to a quip.

      You make yourself sound like a putz.

      Delete
    5. Yes, vaccines are terrible, "Mao collection" - we didn't need those to get rid of smallpox, minimize polio etc. Rabies - no biggie ! Whooping cough - ha, that's jsut a cough.

      Delete
    6. You should've definitely taken the one against rabies, dembot. It saddens us to observe your convulsions and the foam pouring out your mouth.

      Delete
    7. Why are these people here when they have nothing to add to any discussion? (These people = Mao, Cecelia, FDR)

      Delete
    8. Whoa, bots rise against people.

      Delete
    9. "Finally, I am liberal and I am a Mensa member..."

      There's tooth fairy too.

      Delete
    10. This is not cogent argument -- it is trolling. Go away.

      Delete
  4. "Do you ever wonder how such statements may have sounded to that "mass of men" as they led their lives of desperation?"

    Why would I have to wonder when I am surely part of that mass?

    But there is an actual study of how people in that time period felt about their jobs Hugo Munsterberg wrote a book called Psychology and Industrial Efficiency. He studied workers in tedious, monotonous jobs and found that they didn’t experience them that way. Judgments of outsiders about how boring tasks are don’t agree with worker’s own judgments. Further, he found that many so-called higher professions also involve boring tasks and many factors affect worker morale and satisfaction.

    Needless to say, not everyone would enjoy walking around outdoors for four or more hours every day.

    But Thoreau's hubris apparently knew no bounds. It speaks volumes that Somerby apparently identifies with him. Talk about elitist crap!


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Forgot the date. He wrote this in 1913.

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    2. Thoreau's hubris?

      Seek help.

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    3. It sounds like you don't know what the word hubris means. Look it up.

      Delete
    4. It sounds like you are 5 years old.

      Delete
    5. This is not cogent argument -- it is trolling. Go away.

      Delete
    6. A five year old pompous bore.

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    7. Many people at the time thought that Thoreau was more than a bit condescending. Emerson had more polish.

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  5. "We can't say that we understand what Brown was talking about in that passage. "

    He was saying that this was the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Brown reads better if you are high.

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  6. "Absent the discovery of "new mysteries," he said we might be at the point when our society is going to "end in exhaustion."

    People can end in exhaustion, but name one "society" that has done so. Young people come along to replenish society, as does contact with new and different peoples (conservatives call them immigrants and try to keep them from polluting our society).

    Brown may have made that statement in his own twilight years, much as Somerby is making increasingly dark doom and gloom predictions in his own senior years. Much as Wittgenstein apparently called all of philosophy bunk, right before he died (his book was published without his editing, after his death).

    ReplyDelete
  7. "As humans, we're wired to produce tribal dogmas as we make our way towards our latest war."

    This sounds like Somerby's tribal dogma, since Biden is busy ending a war, not starting one. And we have a new book out, Peril, which explains how Trump's generals made sure that he could not start any wars. How tribal is that!

    ReplyDelete
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  9. Societies end due to inequalities. There are new ways of organizing society - the spectra of socialism. Cheer up, Bob!

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  10. "in tribal cluelessness may lie a society's termination."

    What would it look like if society terminated (to use Somerby's word)? Is there any group on earth that has ever functioned without some form of society?

    What is society? It is defined as: "the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community"

    Whenever people are living in a group (including extended family), there is automatically a society formed. Is Somerby suggesting that people will stop living in groups? That doesn't seem likely.

    This whole theme of Somerby's makes no sense at all. It is a vague threat that he uses to try to create fear among his readers, because fearful people tend to vote conservative. Nothing he writes any more makes any kind of sense.

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