Thursday, December 5, 2013


Yes, sorting. It’s almost certain that the order of reality we inhabit here is lawful in the sense that chemistry and physics rule. At best we can arrange it so that chemistry and physics shield us from what looks to us as random flux. But beyond arranging that which absolutely rules this world we cannot change a blessed thing. All of life—and not just ours—is engaged in this arranging and this exploitation; and the more efficiently it is adapted, the humbler its attempt to fit itself into available ecologies, the more it also resembles inorganic nature. It seems easier to be a bird or bee than to be a human.

It makes a contrast to compare a life lived as a simple herder—say of sheep in Mongolia, living in yurts—and one in which a bus, subway, and elevator deposit our bodies in a New York skyscraper where, managing computers bouncing signals off satellites, we communicate arranging vast inventories of, say, electronic parts, while our children study in places or are still just tended by nurseries or schools reached by similarly complicated transportation networks to meet cohorts of care-givers who, like us (hopefully) earned degrees and have the skills to do their jobs—not least CPR, say, should a maddened terrorist crash a plane into our 40-story highrise or the dozing driver of a train cause his cars to roll off an embankment into a preschool’s playground.

The contrast comes into full view when I assume that human life takes its meaning (let me keep it simple) from saving our souls. That should be possible whether we’re simple herders (Mongolian, Kikuyu, or whatever) or Moderns who form the cells of a Babel of Secular  Extravagance. The herder will have his tribal religion and traditions. We moderns will be sophisticated. But in which life is it easier to achieve the ultimate end? Which life is more centered on reality? In which are distractions minimized?

Our birth, of course, assigns the particular curriculum we shall be obliged to follow. You can’t grow up herding in Manhattan. But as consciousness grows, keeping things simple is always wise. And those of us living in Secular Madhouse would be surprised to discover just how complicated it is to make a living herding sheep. But the vast tundras are also empty and silent, most of the day—although  they won’t support a decent crop.

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