Saturday, June 16, 2007

Everyone is doin' it

So I might as well too.

This magnificent quote comes from Scottish Wholesale Co-operative Republic - a northerly outpost of Kropotkin. Hakmao has posted it as has Will in comments. Personally, I think that groups of people should band together, chant it in unison, the rhythm marked by the ting of finger cymbals, with incense burning and crystals waving. They should seek out New Age lunatics and infiltrate their minds through the power of ritual and thereby save them from a life of dowsing.

Michael Bywater in his book Lost Worlds, on 'The Wisdom of the Ancients.'

"The Ancients knew little and understood less. They scratched a living and died like dogs. Gripped by an uncomprehending egocentricity, they believed that the world had been made for them, and they believed that by a crude process of extrapolation: when they needed something, they made it. Finding themselves in a world which suited them to a remarkable degree, they assumed that it had been made for them; obviously, by someone much like them, but much bigger. Unable to understand any laws other than the law of will, they assumed that when something happened in nature, it happened because Nature commanded it. The river dried up because they had offended it; the volcano erupted because the Volcano Giants had not been placated; the harvest failed because someone--this is a bit of a leap of faith, but it leads eventually to Christianity, so it's all okay in the end--had not had his heart torn out and then been ripped limb from limb and his blood poured onto the soil.

In short, the Ancients spent what thinking time they had trying to make phenomenological bricks without ontological straw. They were wrong about almost everything, hopelessly confused sequence and causation, left the scantiest record of their thinking, and croaked in short order.

So why do a significant number of people, even now, believe not only in the bits of the Wisdom of the Ancients that we know about (like astrology) but also that there is a huge corpus of lost wisdom which, if only we could find it, would guarantee us a future of bliss, with no wars or sadness or cancer ever again, a world of birdsong and crystal and......In our dreams. Specifically, in our dream that the world was created perfect, and has been drifting away from perfection ever since. The silver swan unlocks her silent throat--the initiates will spot Orlando Gibbons' great madrigal, the others get a pretty image, everyone's happy. Those who believe in the Wisdom of the Ancients disbelieve in any progress in human understanding.......In truth, it is not the Wisdom of the Ancients that we have lost; it's any fathoming of their true Ignorance."


Cheryl said...

Ignorance or innocence?

The Plump said...

Ignorance. There is nothing innocent about human sacrifice.