Tuesday, January 20, 2009

An inaugural dedication

In dedication to today's inauguration and our 44th president, here are a couple brief passages from Hermann Broch's The Sleepwalkers that I feel read well together.

"The patience with which mankind suffers the authority of logic is simply inexhaustible and can be compared only to the imperturbable patience with which it submits to the art of medicine: and just as the human body confides itself to the most nonsensical medical cures, and is actually cured by them, so reality submits to the erection of the most impossible theoretic structures,--and so long as the theory does not itself declare its bankruptcy it will be supported with confidence, and reality will remain tractable. Only after bankruptcy has been openly declared does man begin to rub his eyes and look once more at reality; only then does he seek the source of knowledge in living experience instead of in ratiocination."

"We know too well that we are ourselves split and riven, and yet we cannot account for it; if we try to cast the responsibility for it on the age in which we live, the age is too much for our comprehension, and so we fall back on calling it insane or great. We ourselves think that we are normal, because, in spite of the split in our souls, our inner machinery seems to run on logical principles. But if there were a man in whom all the events of our time took significant shape, a man whose native logic accounted for the events of our age, then and then only would this age cease to be insane. Presumably that is why we long for a 'leader,' so that he may provide us with the motivation for events that in his absence we can characterize only as insane."

Here's to our newest leader and his accompanying furor--and, of course, to its inevitable bankruptcy. Let's hope for it to strike sooner rather than later, so that perhaps we can finally--after an increasingly disconnected and ethereal political unreality--find the ground upon which we can build a true foundation.

Buzzkill Bill

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