SAYINGS AND TOPICAL COMMENTARIES
Decadence reigns where nothing is defined as indecent
Since when is the public arena of a culture supposed to provide a forum in which personal tastes and inclinations are acted out to be indulged, or even celebrated? On the contrary, behavior in public has always been governed by standards of conduct and style which ask us to rise above our personal predilections and habits in adherence to a general and shared code of conduct whose very point is to exclude the personal and the idiosyncratic from public intercourse. Only thus can the public space become hospitable to all, irrespective of personal tastes and inclinations. Tastes do differ, which means that one person's preference can be another's antipathy. To allow two such persons to meet without unduly taxing one another's patience requires each of them to subordinate personal preferences to the rules of public engagement called decorum, a fundamental prerequisite for a functioning public life. In this light, then, tolerance means keeping private matters out of the public realm.
Why does the world look the way it does? Well, for one thing
Errors take longer to correct than to commit
and Lies take longer to detect than to tell
Crimes take longer to solve than to commit
and Rumors are easier to spread than to quell
moreover, by and large and in the main, it is the victim who foots the bill, not only in the form of the initial loss imposed by the violation, but for pursuing the effort to set it right as well... (Now, with mention of "the victim", let there be no mistake about the sense in which the phrase is being used: it does not designate a class, to be contrasted with "the wicked" or any other categorical notion; a victim one moment may of course be a violator the moment before or after)...
So, all in all and on the whole, things are really never resolved, accounts are never really settled, and a state of accomplished justice is never achieved. Instead we live out our lives in circumstances burdened by a permanent backlog of unsettled scores and unresolved issues and get used to walking over corpses without looking back just to get on with it...
This may help explain, among other things, our apparent intellectual laziness: we read dailies - daily newspapers - and pulp fiction when more substantial fare is available, as those know who have bothered to dig. But the points above conspire to make the digging arduous: Layer upon layer of accumulated error, bias and obfuscation may have to be removed for something substantial to emerge... which then may suggest additional digging in other directions... The effort all too easily turns into a major project, while all along there is a life to be lived, right?
Nor is there anything "wrong" with this in the sense that someone or something might be identified as being "responsible" (and blamed) for this state of affairs. The question was why the world looks the way it does, and those are some circumstances among many that make it what it is... They are worth special mention only because they are not typically the first to come up when the question is raised...
Terrorism: In the old days one threw a bomb at the Tsar, and was a terrorist. A public target for an extremist public objective. Who ever thought of choosing private targets for acts of terror aimed at securing public objectives? But that is exactly what modern terrorism does. Core definition of modern terrorism: the deliberate targetting of civilians for (lethal) violence as a means to reach public objectives.
Such means are never legitimate, no matter what the cause or objective. They are depraved, simply despicable. Their use strips the perpetrator not only of legitimacy, but of all human decency. It is not possible to sink to lower means in matters public. It is a sad commentary on our age that sufficiently many fail to realize this to allow modern terrorism to pay off... And that, of course, is its root cause: it pays!
Isn’t it curious that the expression “political intellectual” strikes us as vaguely redundant? Thus we become aware of a deep conflation in current discourse between the works of the intellect and the works of power. By lending their intellect to politics intellectuals become its handmaidens. Intellectual argument on behalf of one or another side in a political contest serves to disguise the fundamental fact that politics is not about nor driven by truth but is about and driven by power: the uses and abuses of power (the power of the state) for public purposes. Any argument to the effect that the position of one or another faction in the contest for and use of power is “right” reinforces the illusion that politics is about something other than “might” and its uses. It disguises the primacy of power in politics by pretending that first comes the truth and then its implementation on the path of power, whereas in fact the intellectual argument has simply added one more endorsement of many onto one of the sides in a contest for power whose tortuous paths lose themselves in the mists of history.
One of the secrets of success is not to invest effort in what others do better than you…
Don't come telling me what you are for. Don't come telling me what you are against, or what you think, promote, advocate, or stand for. Opinion being cheap, all that is likely to amount to little more than trying to look good, before yourself and others. I'd rather hear what you have done, accomplished, or created, with your hands, your care, or your mind, in the small or in the large. If that required earnestness and application, perseverance in adversity, the shouldering of responsibility, and was achieved honestly and without violating your own integrity or that of others, and perhaps was even done with a bit of detachment and humor, then, by all means, tell me more.
As soon as you try to improve not your own lot in life but that of others, you pose a clear and present danger to every life you touch in this way… all the more so if those others are strangers…
Postmodernism is politics, only.
Justification (self-justification) is the pivot on which the lever of shame pulls the world off its hinges…
If this sounds cryptic, here is a hint: justification, to work, has to be in the name of a higher principle.