Ian Welsh is always thoughtful, instructive and awesome. Scoot over to FireDogLake.com for nourishing food for thought...
Update (12/16): OK, maybe not always. This Star Trek/Jetsons/Blade Runner future fantasizing is so 20th Century. The problem is that future technological dreams flounder on a double whammy: Dependence on cheap energy, and on the sort of human specialization which requires the underpinnings of complex society, which always encounters its collapse, and this one is on the decline of its arc...
Sorry, Ian, but you are much better when you are discussing what is rather than what shall be. Then again, aren't we all...
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Sunday, November 4, 2007
I was musing over a personal situation - on which I shall not elaborate at this time - and some thoughts occurred to me. I must note that there are dozens, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people who have more insight into the thoughts and motivations of our former Vice President that I can pretend to have, but that doesn't stop the active mind from filling in its own blanks. And so, with the caveat that I have absolutely no grounds from which to speculate, my personal certainty that psychological activity has certain universal properties permits me to proceed with abandon.
With that in mind, one can also assume correctly that this is not about Al Gore the man, but more accurately it is about an archetypal myth - you know, the fellow who we are mostly reacting to, seeing as this "Al Gore" is really just the image of Al Gore, as it is steeped in the milieu of the drama of today's politics, hopes, and dreams.
One assumes that our "Al Gore" is sincere about "saving the world," or humanity, or howsoever one wishes to put it. One would further assume, if one is serious, that one would be only concerned with that which advances such a goal, or those actions which would be most effective.
The first signpost one encounters on this road - again, if one is serious - is the important question of whether one really knows how to go about this. More to the point, does one actually know what constitutes what is best? How much of what is considered "best" is coloured by personal desires, prejudices, and preconceptions?
Is this even knowable?
It is not, of course - and this leads me to my first observation: One is a fool to seek to expand one's own influence. One observes that the day is filled with immediate experiences, with their own attendant decisions required, all to simply fulfill the wish to to the right thing.
This is a simple task when one's attention is in the moment, but one that takes on an Herculean complexity the moment one steps out of now, replacing the clarity of immediacy with the calculations of a mind steeped in lessons about what is right. This is what must occur when one wishes to expand the horizon of right-living beyond what is directly in front of oneself.
Without invoking any notions of divinity or directed cosmic purpose, but from a simply existential basis, one feels safe in pointing out that one is already tasked with saving the world from one's own point of existence. Seeking to expand beyond what is in front of one's own face is a de facto dereliction of that duty. The happily ironic fact is that one has the most influence when the immediate is handled correctly, for all actions ripple outward from one's center, and the quality of those actions determine the quality of that influence.
How does this apply to our mythical "Al Gore?" Perhaps he has seen this. Frankly, my thought experiments on his non-candidacy seem to fit this speculation. While it is irritating that he has not outright and unequivocally ruled out running for the nomination - doing absolutely nothing to either forward or discourage a candidacy, thus frustrating the multitudes - it occurs that putting forth a position one way or the other is contrary to the idea of the immediacy of the moment. Any position taken by Mr. Gore in this context would be a premature calcification of intent, a signal attribute of personal expansion of influence.
To wit: It is far wiser to remain ignorant as to what one is going to do next. "Next" is not immediate.
Now this is heavy stuff when applied to something as base and common as political calculation - indeed, it is un-serious, irresponsible and ripe for ridicule. May I point out that in Al Gore's case, this just might prove my point. Ridicule is exactly what has occurred any time Al gets all egghead on us and says philosophical stuff and all.
I think that while he is certainly fed up with this dumbed-down version of national dialogue (see Al's eyes roll), I still see the fresh vitality of an aware mind, ever ready to step up once the kids want to get serious about things.
Action can spring from intent, or it can be borne of the moment - it cannot be both. As intimated earlier, "intent" is bound up with personal desires, prejudices, and preconceptions. The best that can be done when it (inevitably) rears its head is persistent observation and contemplation, until it slinks away in shame. Only then is one free to act in the moment, and such action is no longer personal, but instead is infused with a "rightness" that is truly universal, that is truly in the interests of the whole.
[I am fully aware that assigning the real Al Gore with "enlightenment" is terribly presumptuous and rather childish. I am, of course, just projecting.]