Monday, September 15, 2014

I know the halting pursuit

The other day, motoring along in our
quiet neighbourhood, I was listening
to National Public Radio in one of
those bright and sparkling mid-day
interview programmes they should be
commended for conducting. An Indian
web frees people from having to know
things, allowing them to cultivate
the nobler facets of their networks.
He was quite exuberant on the pros-
pect of supplanting cultivation as
it used to be understood, with an
admittedly enviable suppleness of
cordial ignorance. I'm sorry, I did
not make notes of the event; but I
cannot believe I raise an unfamiliar
paradigm, to anyone brilliant enough
to log on.

I do not complain of obsolescence 
in one's style of having lived by
recombinant acquisitions of learn-
ing, each moment identified by an
interval of life in which it was
assimilated, but always contempor-
aneously with much else, furnishing a
a crucible of context of some confu-
sion, within an ongoing, organic de-
velopment of the mind and of life,
with occasional side trips to look
at paintings, and other human bod-
ies. (My, how abrupt they can be).

To know something immediately, not
only defies the structure of Na-
ture - and you may say, its compact
with time - it rends and claws
and smashes the organic relation-
ship between development and its
deployment. But I understand our 
Indian mentor's exaltation of the 
bull in the corrida, seeking death. 
Having to know immediately is rou- 
tine, ordinary, to calves at a dis-
pensing teat. To the bull, spontan-
eously inspired by the banderilla,
it's expedient, and useless all at 

His power is not his magnificence,
it's his hysteria, inflicted by un-
examined stimuli. Nobody has any
trouble, unfortunately, in recog-
nising the culture being played 
by banderillas, in the bullhorns
of its warrior cheerleaders. This
would not be conceivable, in the
plodder's naïveté. The futility
of knowing in the upstart mode of
search engines has been exhibited
enough, yet I don't argue for its
abandonment, merely for its appre-
ciation as the parlour game that
it is. We hope to diminish the 
futility of knowing, by the only
means in which we could suggest
any confidence in it: measuring
the vitality of its condition
by its endurance of reflection.

There are the willful naïves and
the natural kind. Who can accept
being imitated by incompetents?

George W.S. Trow
Within the Context
  of No Context
Atlantic Monthly Press, 1997©

Man Ray
George Platt-Lynes
Paris, 1927

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