But it seems best to conclude by registering a note of sobriety, as against hopes for transformation. If cultural despair rests on a view of history as being more powerful than individuals, the revolutionary for his part entertains an exaggerated fantasy of world changing. A heady vision of the progressive hereafter in which economic antagonism has been overcome may come to stand in for, and distract him from, the smaller but harder work of living well in this life. The alternative to revolution, which I want to call Stoic, is resolutely this-worldly. It insists on the permanent, local viability of what is best in human beings. In practice, this means seeking out the cracks where individual agency and the love of knowledge can be realized today, in one’s own life.
April 28, 2015 @ 1:29 pm
Yes! But I think of this attitude as mining my environment for what I want. "Seeking out the cracks" seems a bit ratlike.
April 28, 2015 @ 8:41 pm
Mining my environment sounds rather…toxic…Noel. Like something a coal company ran by a crazy right winger would do!
April 29, 2015 @ 12:47 am
It was an impressive book. The Oakeshott is strong with this one, as I suspected. Some of his passages on the way "tacit" knowledge of motorcycle mechanics is learned and passed on directly parallel what Oakeshott said about cooking (can't find a good direct link to that).
Personally, the line about seeking out the cracks made me think of Taoist passages about water seeking the lowest level, patiently adjusting to whatever is put in its path, overcoming without needing to assert itself, etc. A person with that attitude doesn't waste time raging at the world for refusing to arrange itself to his liking, he just concentrates on carving out a little space of contentment in the midst of omnipresent confusion and chaos.
April 29, 2015 @ 3:08 pm
My point is that there is good stuff in the world, but it doesn't necessarily fall into your lap. Figure out which direction it is and the best path to get to it. You might have to dig. If things don't work out, at least you tried. That's agency.
There is something to the lowest energy state analogy, but that state is sometimes located on the other side of a hill. Water can't climb, but we can.