As it is? No, after reading some of the things my old friend Dr Dave MacFarlane says about his present Ethiopian volunteer experiences – see his excellent though medically skewed 🙂 blog http://www.aweebitmore.blogspot.com/
at the risk of annoying him I will quote from his latest email to me, and then at the risk of annoying you i will quote my reply:
‘If you’ve looked back through [my blog] you’ll see its so different from yours, not much about ideas and dreaming but about life and death in the third world. I agree – you will see in one of my posts I say the same thing as you but in a different way – about the good that is in western culture. But dont you think it has become a bloated self centred and ugly monstor that is now about to wreck everything? From here thats what it looks like. I read of an american woman, wife of a baseball megastar saying she was angry at God for making it impossible for her and her family to contunue where they were living – God, according to her made the baseball Team in some other city offer her husband more than the team they were already playing in, so they had to move and she was angry at god becasue the home team wouldnt match it – the other team offered him – for a ten year contract – 256 million US Dollars and the home team a miserly 210 million! How obscene and grotequely out of touch is that woman but not just her the entire baseball culture, indeed the entire US culture that can create so much wealth to waste on a tedious ball game! AND they call themselves “Christian?”
I wonder really if most people are simply not worth the effort, they are just drones that need to be fed and amused and taxed and kept happy in some inane theme park kind of world – give them smart phones and facebook so they can play at being real – and ignored by anyone who has a dream or a vision or some spark of creativity or genius or just a bigger view of life and the universe and everything.’
thanks for that great, real email, and i did read a fair bit of the blog – i have been thinking about the terribly real issues you face there, also reading about wittgenstein in a biog (Wittgenstein – the duty of Genius) as he chose, after finishing the Tractatus logico-philosophicus, to renounce his huge wealth (he inherited his father’s fortune in american bonds) and live among the poor people in a tiny post-war austrian village in the 20’s. to his horror he gradually realised they didnt want big and noble ideals and to be elevated by algebra and philosophy and poetry, but resented his intrusion into their thick-lipped, heavy-booted peasanthood. i think you’re right – and it has been said before – most are wedded to their low level of consciousness. hence the inanity of facebook – i find its like frowned on to be too real or earnest there. the vibe is keep it light, flippant, offhand, ironic. sure, post the trendy things about occupy wall st., but dont challenge yourself or your friends to actually do something great, and constructive, right here. i have (nearly) learnt not to try and rouse the sleepers, but wait for those who have ears to hear.
even protest is a way of remaining asleep and not doing something positive oneself.
yes the West has become a bloated caricature, and it shows in your third-world mirror in its ugliness. But as you said without what it achieved through the values and truths it once acted by, we would all be third-worlders – but without the aid packages or libraries, let alone the Web. So for me the thing is not to attack the bloated sick body, but go for the head, to try to remind it of the truths which once animated that body. And to re-imagine them at a new level, with new insights, for a new generation.
am i hiding from a simpler duty – to go forth and materially help the poor? i dont think so… each to his own. doctors heal bodies and give new hope that way, psychologists heal minds, philosophers heal the structures of thought which those minds, the higher parts of them, take for granted. the mending of the almost-absolute presuppositions of thought and valuing. When any of those people fail in their task or become corrupted, they harm the corresponding level of humanity. The corruption of the philosophers of the West was the worst corruption of all.
But even the relatively uncorrupted philosophers of our time (if i may call myself that) are tempted to hide in the morass of money worries, worried wives, mortgages, responding to facebook, and fragmented hard drives. your blog was a wake-up call. Can i justify what i am doing here and now?
i could be helping in the third world, teaching them lots of creative solutions to all manner of pressing problems. So, it is good you went there, thanks for doing it! just look after yourself, and stay alive! i think you must have made at least a christian’s foot by now…:) And maybe his head?? just think, all those values of Chistians are real possible values, just [often] warped and twisted, mixed with some nasty errors. We can untwist them, perhaps, and keep the torch burning, or relight it. You may have a book in you! no, you do. the blog is a book. can easily as you did get it printed, or organise further into a published book or ebook. ebooks are the coming thing…
well, back to my mortgage issues and book-design…