literature of the apocalypse_10

readings:
Abbey: “Theory of Anarchy”
Huxley: Ape and Essence, pp. 1-71

notes & response:
-“In spite of all the astronomers can say, Ptolemy was perfectly right: the center of the universe is here, not there.”
-“To be or not to be — the solil-oquy had gone on for the best part of two years, and if Bob could have had his way it would have gone on for ten years longer. He liked his messes to be chronic and mainly verbal, never so acutely carnal as to put his uncertain virility to yet another humili-ating test. But under the influence of his eloquence, of that baroque facade of a profile and prematurely snowy hair, Elaine had evidently grown tired of a merely chronic and platonic mess.”
-“the com-position, luminously explicit, an equation in balanced voids and solids, in harmonizing and contrasting hues; the figures in adamantine repose… those huge inverted cones of white or colored felt, which in Piero’s world serve the double purpose of emphasizing the solid-geometrical nature of the human body and the outlandishness of Orientals. For all their silken softness, the folds of every garment would have the inevitability and definitiveness of syllogisms carved in porphyry and throughout the whole we should feel the all- pervading presence of Plato’s God, forever mathematizing chaos into the order and beauty of art.”
-“But from the Parthenon and the Timaeus a specious logic leads to the tyranny which, in the Republic, is held up as the ideal form of government. In the field of politics the equivalent of a theorem is a perfectly disciplined army; of a sonnet or picture, a police state under a dictatorship. The Marxist calls himself scientific and to this claim the Fascist adds another: he is the poet — the scientific poet — of a new mythology. Both are justified in their pretensions; for each applies to human situations the procedures which have proved effective in the laboratory and the ivory tower. They simplify, they abstract, they eliminate all that, for their purposes, is irrelevant and ignore whatever they choose to regard as inessential; they impose a style, they com-pel the facts to verify a favorite hypothesis, they con-sign to the waste paper basket all that, to their mind, falls short of perfection. And because they thus act like good artists, sound thinkers and tried experi-menters, the prisons are full, political heretics are worked to death as slaves, the rights and preferences of mere individuals are ignored, the Gandhis are murdered and from morning till night a million school-teachers and broadcasters proclaim the infallibility of the bosses who happen at the moment to be in power.”
-“But even as I spoke I was thinking that that wasn’t the whole story. The whole story included an incon-sistency, almost a betrayal. This man who believed only in people had got himself involved in the sub-human mass-madness of nationalism, in the would-be super-human, but actually diabolic, institutions of the nation-state. He got himself involved in these things, imagining that he could mitigate the madness and convert what was satanic in the state to something like humanity. But nationalism and the politics of power had proved too much for him. It is not at the center, not from within the organization, that the saint can cure our regimented insanity; it is only from without, at the periphery. If he makes himself a part of the machine, in which the collective madness is incarnated, one or the other of two things is bound to happen. Either he remains himself, in which case the machine will use him as long as it can and, when he becomes unusable, reject or destroy him. Or he will be transformed into the likeness of the mechanism with and against which he works, and in this case we shall see Holy Inquisitions and alliances with any tyrant prepared to guarantee ecclesiastical privileges.”
-“I was thinking that the dream of Order begets tyranny, the dream of Beauty, monsters and violence.”
-“The leech’s kiss, the squid’s embrace,
The prurient ape’s defiling touch:
And do you like the human race?
No, not much.”
-“For here on the screen, in something better than Technicolor, it is the hour before sunrise. Night seems to linger in the darkness of an almost unruffled sea; but from the fringes of the sky a transparent pallor mounts from green through deepening blue to the zenith. In the east the morning star is still visible.”
-“Tragedy is the farce that involves our sympathies, farce, the tragedy that happens to outsiders. Tweedy and breezy, wholesome and efficient, this object of the easiest kind of satire is also the subject of an Intimate Journal. What flaming sunsets she has seen and vainly attempted to describe! What velvety and voluptuous summer nights! What lyrically lovely days of spring! And oh, the torrents of feeling, the temptations, the hopes, the passionate throbbing of the heart, the humiliating disappointments!”
-“And now we are only five miles up and it becomes increasingly obvious that the great Metrollopis is a ghost town, that what was once the world’s largest oasis is now its greatest agglomeration of ruins in a wasteland.”

Is mythology capable of circumventing the political rhetoric of the scientific poet for the Marxist or the Fascist? The satire resides in the justification of pretensions for human situations that cannot necessarily be solved by science or authoritarian nationalism, despite the laboratory or the ivory tower. And the sound of a sonnet is not contingent upon what’s regarded as irrelevant or inessential. One could argue that it’s these imperfections that lead to new hypotheses. Does that not result in an idea of perfection—the pursuit thereof? Sounds too utopian, or mythological, to be true, right? False, if one can find meaning in the pursuit. And for the sake of poetry, the true scientific poet can make art of the experimentation, or dissection, of the human language. But to what extent does this language belong to the humans and not the machines? Perhaps the answer lies within the inconsistencies. Is it not our imperfections and disparities, the stammering of our speech, that keeps us guessing, experimenting, hypothesizing, and ultimately, pursuing? Stutter so long as you see fit to not fit within that of the regimented. We keep our faith in the people and not the machine because we know what it means to feel, to be perplexed by emotion. Despite the grip of nationalism and the politics of power, “It is not at the center, not from within the organization, that the saint can cure our regimented insanity; it is only from without, at the periphery.” Observe the machine, be mindful of its workings, but do not attach yourself to the collective madness. Otherwise, as fate and technology will soon show, machine will make use of the man only until the latter no longer serves a purpose, thus resulting in rejection and destruction; or transformation into mechanism will transpire.

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