God has two dwellings; one in heaven, and the other in a meek and thankful heart.
— Izaak Walton, born in 1593
What I Learned While Eavesdropping on the Taliban. "I spent 600 hours listening in on the people who now run Afghanistan. It wasn't until the end of my tour that I understood what they were telling me."
Australian clouds in the sky swim like a river …
“The Novel of Tomorrow” Zona Gale writes:
“The function of the novel is not to treat of life as it appears to the ordinary eye; or even to treat life in its ordinary aspect, if that were ascertainable. It is not even to treat of life as it should be, if thatwere ascertainable. Its function is not primarily to report the familiar at all. The function of the novel is to reflect the familiar as permeated by the unfamiliar; to reflect the unknown in its daily office of permeating the known.”
A psychiatrist, of all people, states an immutable truth in T.S. Eliot’s The Cocktail Party (1949):
“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm; but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”
The shrink understates his case. Most of the harm in the world is done by the self-important, and much of it is intentional. You can’t blame social media. That just makes the human impulse to be nasty and hurtful more convenient, less labor-intensive, with the optional benefit of being safely anonymous. We enjoy swelling our sense of importance by deflating others’. Even at its pettiest, the power to control and hurt, like cocaine, is intoxicating and addictive. Usually it is fueled by anger, the poor man’s coke. The most soft-headed, pitiful little shit can feel like Chairman Mao.
And, at least in the United States, and at least until now, such behavior is protected by the First Amendment and an informal but widely acknowledged code of social tolerance and mutual respect. Like you, I read and hear stupid, hateful speech daily. If the speaker is family or friend, I might ask them to tone it down. Otherwise, I walk away or hit the delete key. What the humorlessly self-important fail to recognize is their own tediousness. They may be high, but we’re bored. In a letter written on this date, August 8, in 1919, to Fielding H. Garrison, H.L. Mencken puts it characteristically:
“On the one hand lies the great body of conventional doctrine – flabby, fly-blown and false. On the other hand lies the work of the revolutionists. The facts lie between. That is why I am so hotly in favor of free speech for Bolsheviks, birth controllers, Prohibitionists, anarchists, Mormons and other such fancy fellows.”