Saturday, May 22, 2004

More Food for Thought

It is a beautiful May afternoon here on the Left Coast, Southern California -- one of those days we get only in May and June... socked in with marine layer clouds all morning, partly clearing in the afternoon, with an exquisite SSW breeze of 5-10 MPH ... 75 degrees F. My house is surrounded by 50 year-old shade trees. Richard mentioned below about the lazy Saturday afternoon. These days are sublime, and too few and far between. I wait all year for these two months. After a long walk, I began re-reading Joan Didion's anthology "Slouching Toward Bethlehem" (1960s era pieces), and a little Vonnegut ("Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons")... and hard-boiling eggs for my daughter's 27th birthday party tomorrow... I just now looked at Daniel Quinn's "Beyond Civilization" for the hundredth time. (If you've not read any Quinn, start with "Ismael", then "The Story of B", and then "Beyond...")

I'm going to leave you with some Quinn quotes for your supper. I'd love to discuss them in light of the current Yeatsian Times we find our world in... I will front-load the discussion by saying that I am in full agreement with Quinn...

•If the world is saved, it will not be by old minds with new programs but by new minds with no programs at all. Why not new minds with new programs? Because where you find people working on programs, you don't find new minds, you find old ones. Programs and old minds go together like buggy whips and buggies.

•Old minds think: How do we stop these bad things from happening? New minds think: How do we make things the way we want them to be?

•We spend more and more on our failures every year. Most people accept this willingly enough, because they know they're getting more every year: bigger budgets, more laws, more police, more prisons--more of everything didn't work last year or the year before that or the year before that.

•There is no one right way for people to live. Once you recognize it, it's perfectly clear that this is the story that was enacted here during the first three or four million years of human life. Of course, there's a clear sense in which ours is just a special case of a much wider story, written in the living community itself from the beginning, some five billion years ago: There is no one right way for ANYTHING to live.

Eat hearty, and if you're hungry later you can find Daniel Quinn's (books) Beyond Civilization at or any large local bookstores.