I’ve had my “Great Books of the Western World” set for over two years now. Not including the Synopticons, books 2 & 3, I am on book 5, I think. Aeschylus. I think. Anyhow, the thing that has been unresolved until now is how no one else cares about these amazing books and ideas.
Finally, today, it hit me. To put it avant-garde, the reason no one cares about the “great books/ideas” is because there are too many Indians to kill this time around. Put inversely, the reason no one cares about the “great books/ideas” is because there is no vast, unexplored, unconquered, and ungoverned terra firma to be again treated like New Eden. After all, it’s “you’ve been kicked out of the Garden”, not, “You’ve been kicked out of wherever you settled after being kicked out of the Garden.”
We don’t seem to be able to think more than one step ahead.
Put another way, great ideas and great books—so says the zeitgeist—have become meaningless. We ask, “What’s the point? Where could we put them into practice and try to build up a utopia for a third time?”
“Is anyone really going to redraw European boundaries? Will untamed regions of Africa and South America and Siberia and Northern Canada really find themselves useful to man?”
“Where is the Neo New World? Or the Ultimate Final Frontier?”
“Speaking of, will it be ‘New USA’ once we’re living somewhere off earth? Or just ‘USA’?”
My step-son just finished reading about Columbus, from an author who adored Columbus—rightly so—and on no follow-on ACT/SAT-prep style reading comprehension test is Columbus:Spain::Musk:USA, no matter how many dictionaries or books I let him use.
Changing generations, my good, in fact, great friend is working on his History PhD, and in so doing writes on mountaineering and exploration. I used to think he was writing the history of mountaineering and exploration. Now I see that he is writing that mountaineering and exploration are actions and ideas which can only be found in history—like the word “homespun”. The crazy part of this aspect of my realization is that many people and cultures never climbed mountains for pleasure or explored uncharted vistas in the first place. It seems that nature is not equitable when dishing out bravery. We might say that bravery is actually unnatural. Better to hide, run, and go hungry.
In the end, despite the depressing nature of the above, I am terribly excited to have resolved this.
Stay tuned for a post about how I resolve the follow-up quandary, which is deciding how to let fellow earthlings know that they are not very nice neighbors without killing the men, raping the women, and enslaving the children. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.