Sunday, September 1, 2013

Loren Eiseley: the unpredictable

"Physicists, it now appears, are convinced that a principle of uncertainty exists in the submicroscopic realm of particles and that out of this queer domain of accident and impact has emerged, by some kind of mathematical magic, the sustaining world of natural law by which we make our way to the bank, the theater, to our homes, and finally to our graves.  Perhaps, after all, a world so created has something still wild and unpredictable lurking behind its more sober manifestations.  It is my contention that this is true, and that the rare freedom of the particle to do what most particles never do is duplicated in the solitary universe of the human mind.

The lightning flashes, the smashed circuits through which, on occasion, leaps the light of unverses beyond our ken, exist only in rare individuals.  But the flashes from such minds can fascinate and light up through the arts of communication the intellects of those not necessarily endowed with genius.  In a conformist age science must, for this reason, be wary of its own authority.  The individual must be re-created in the light of a revivified humanism which sets the value of man the unique against that vast and ominous shadow of man the composite, the predictable, which is the delight of the machine.  The polity we desire is that ever-creative polity which Robert Louis Stevenson had in mind when he spoke of each person as containing a group of incongruous and ofttimes conflicting citizenry. Bacon himself was seeking the road by which the human mind might be opened to the full image of the world, not reduced to the little compass of a state-manipulated machine."

-- Loren Eiseley --
 from The Night Country

Does this sound at all familiar?  Large corporations, as well as governments, are happiest with the composite person, predictable and manageable.  The art of communication can be used or misused to manipulate and indoctrinate citizen-consumers as well as illuminate and enlighten.  It's a race to see who wins.  I'm not optimistic for the forces of conformity have the financial and the political resources to silence the odd and irregular messages that come from those lacking the official stamp of approval.

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