Confusion #3

Some clarity, of a sort. Confusion is caused by too many things going on, where the confusion of things cannot be condensed into a sensible whole. That is, confusion is caused by too many little things and not enough big things. Now, the ways to avoid confusion are multiple. They are:

  • Avoid locales with too many small things of the sort that demand your attention
  • Narrow your vision to limit the number of things you see
  • Only look at big things learn new ways to see sets of many small things as big things

The most sinful of these ways is the third. This way can make you very foolish or very powerful. The first and second ways are not sinful, the prejudices of intellectuals aside, but they are-for what it matters-small. The fourth way is the challenge issued to the “modern intellectual’’. It means to craft new categories for things that have never been recognized as things before. It can be terrible, because you must live within the vast swarm for a long time, trying to find the rule that binds the things together.

Three conceptions of history:

  • “One damn thing after another’’
  • An arrow shot from the beginning of time
  • Four-dimensional matrix, an ice prison(and many others, more mature)

This is relevant because history becomes a problem for human beings when it ceases to be a guide but a source of confusion, i.e., when the span of history becomes too long and the actors too numerous. The first conception falsely relinquishes a claim to guidance; in fact, it gestures slyly at human nature; and it recommends belief in the gods. The second conception is, of course, the crusader’s; also the liberal bureaucrat’s; and it can be buffoonish in its rush to absorb violent accidents and incidental jokes into itself. The third conception is a useless lie, because it simply posits a possibility of absolute knowledge that is impossible; and the image is dreary, anyway. Now, arrows shot in time, from different points…