by Emmett R Smith
The following link reveals Mrs Alaska Republican Governor Palin to be at least a religious fundamentalist, albeit snarky with dyed hair and the hootowl glasses of quaint 1970s feminists. Retrospective unvanquished vanities aside however, she is a christian lady equipped moreover with the usual wayward daughter — and an unforgiveably squeechy (sic) forty-something voice, Jesus or no Jesus and all of that proverbial delightsomeness thrown in on the deal for free. She sounds to me, actually, like a girlish Mrs W Jefferson Clinton and (thank the ambiguous god of the christians for the small mercies at least!) one without the dead weight of the deadly and down-dragging demi-professionalist dead-in-the-water droning deadliness, of tone. Mrs Palin caws blissfully rather in an upper squeakier register about Jesus and drops the Gs from her gerunds, all very huntress-of-mooses and stay-at-home-mom-like:
The accompanying remarks, by Sam Harris, also make a very good point about one of the major historical tensions in democracy, namely the problem (and, great undesirability often!) of the “average” leader.
All now lends weight and velocity to the sarcasm the other day in Bodwyn Wook, that these fool Americanos these days are getting remorselessly, and in wads and big doses indeed, both the mohammedans and Presidents (and now, at last, a Vice-President!) they deserve. On the other hand, it does the dwindling health — and, what rag of prestige still in it — of whatever is left of our science no real good, to keep embroiled in moot endless argument about any primary validity of contradictory-seeming “models” (fantasies) of reality. The subjection now of all to relativism is absolute. And the corollary? What is residual is no longer primus inter pares. Thus the hopeless ruckus between darwinists and creationists. After all, from a certain sufi viewpoint (and, taking into account a multidirectional timeframe), both are “right.”
Therefore, all science does by diving uncritically backward into nineteenth century contention is to reveal the onesided state of the science curriculum of today, and the dangerously uncultured ignorance of art and, especially, literature on the part of most serving scientists. For good or ill, the Richard Dawkins website gives insight into both the passion and the corresponding blindspots of many of postmodernity’s committed scientists:
This is truly a pygmy situation, anachronistic in most respects, and in it one perceives that the late-modern public institution of science is above all politically afraid, and animally so like lab rats, that the wonderful supply of “free” money from off of the government will dry up if postmodern born-again trailercourts and Wal Marteers all take the reins of power. The bad news — and something that orthodox scientism as well as public liberalism cannot bear to admit — is that in fact all political parties and colliding causes are complicit, in the decline of American and western public acuity and the great public upsurge of general stupidity all through the Old Atlantic West. Having overstayed the 1800s amid the epistemological mess of modernism’s collapse, science is gloomily relapsed into the seventeenth century and witch-hunts, for lurking christians and other satanists. It is thrown down once again into being just another faction among the factionalized, embittered claques all howling to heaven from the common gutter of our insignificant days, for public support of every sort of stupid unilateralism from obstinate affirmative action to stubborn creationism, and the abstinant flinging of condoms and Jesus, like dead cats.
In none of this mishmash of “terms” and “narratives” is anyone taught as such to think.
Thinking of course is an art that requires material for thought.
Every kind of thing and idea.
Everything is needed.
The requirement absolutely is for mental material of every sort. This objectively includes both the treasures of religious and scientific thought, and lots more besides. That “lots more” takes in notably the study of history, how sooner or later so often all are taken in, by some lie or the other — and that same “lots” demands, too, the ramming home of a lively understanding that whatever may be the value system and fantasy about “reality” in any human period, all knowledge from whatever source has been used to do evil and commit atrocities.
As to science and its atom bombs and Zyklon-B, in the new period now upon us, the exhausted metaphors of the uncertainty principle now are ending in the tertiary and quaternary elaborations of applied technology, mostly applied by ignorant online thrillseekers with no knowledge of the science or religious values of their culture. Mostly applied to devilment and the corruption of ever-younger children. Nor to much of anything else. And yet there is hope, even in such a sewer of screams over rotting scraps.
For in future, new dimensions of scientific knowledge will open as surviving humanity take up once again the unfinished business of the neoplatonism of the thirteenth century. Especially the political struggle for “big funding” will now recede (with the state) as the role of the thought experiment, essentially private and, as well, deeply informed and improved by the progress of the past five hundred years, now opens on new vistas….
Meanwhile, the shadow we all dread, namely that of unrelenting historical atrocity and mass murder, is still long over us.
The answers to this ongoing crucifixion of human being are found only in the human heart of culture and nowhere else, in the deep respect (NB) to be fostered by any legitimate education, for all — all — that human beings have concocted to comfort themselves and thereby struggle onward in the hail of horror, and endless night and ice. The good education is that one which includes study of many systems of working faith and method and belief. The goodness in it being to reveal throughout that we are also capable of standing up to the atrocious impulse, and very well able to refuse to belittle and devalue what is merely uncongenial. Such schooling alone can fill enough of us — just enough, perhaps — all full of the power of true love, to not dehumanize and withold more life from those who dare to stand on different imaginal ground.
For the sake of the (un)common ability to perceive one another as each one really is today, both the scientific and the religious personality stand right now in dire need of more than anything else a literary education.
As matters stand now, this is our direst need and not more weapons, oil and universal medication, and a very good place to begin the remedy is with the article by Roger Rosenblatt in January, 1982, in Time Magazine. It was written after the crash in Washington, DC, of Air Florida Flight 90, it is called “The Man in the Water” and your assignment this week — instead of complaining about Senators Obama and M’Cain — is to look it up. And, to read at least three times.
[Emmett R Smith all rights reserved 3 September 2008]