Friday, September 09, 2011

Musings on History

I read widely. I'm not an educated man and I'm not particularly intelligent, but I do read. It has always been a sore point for me that my reading has rarely approached anything like a discipline. I will read whatever I fancy whenever I chance upon something that seems relatively entertaining. I've rarely pushed myself, intellectually, so there's obviously a weakness there. But at least I'm not (wholly) ignorant.

Among the many things that I read is history. I read the history of Mankind that's written in books, and I read of the history of Mother Earth written in the fossil record, and I read the history of the Universe written in the stars wheeling all around us in the (almost) void. No matter how small and silly the history, or how vast and far-flung, I get a kick out of what has been and the musings of where it may go.

The only histories we can comment on definitively are the ones already written.

Every once in a while I'll read some bit by a popular writer who will claim--after a fashion--that he predicted or somehow foresaw recent developments in the history of human civilization. I always read these claims with interest, and then pour upon them all of the disgust and contempt that is mine to bestow. The arrogance and self-delusion at work in this kind of claim must come easy for some people. But even so, it astounds me. I think that it comes from a feeling or hope that individual humans have any influence at all upon what will be.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The reason for these own musing of mine are a recent article (widely published) that a certain man (widely respected by many--but not by me) who claims that he saw the so-called "Arab Spring" coming and--like some kind of Messiah--had been proclaiming its coming for years. The social elite does produce some disgusting individuals with overblown opinions of themselves. Such claims are always so much hot air. No man can predict, but there are many who can record. And, sadly, a few who make insane claims.

Among my favorite writers are men who retreated from thinking that anything one could say or do could influence the world at large. George Carlin comes to mind when I read things like that recent article. Kurt Vonnegut occurs to me when I see exclamation of coming utopia. These are men who knew that there was no pie-in-the-sky. Foremost among the writers I admire, I think of Charles Bukowski at times like this.

The Great Bukowski.

Bukowski had started his adult life as a Nazi sympathizer but quickly mellowed into a kind of amused apathy toward his species, and retreated to the wine bottle and a life of inspired musing that resulted in volumes of brilliant poetry and prose. What the heck? When it comes to human beings, there really is no reason to be optimistic, and certainly no basis for claiming prescience.

For there is one thing about Homo sapiens that I--and anyone else--can say. It does have a future, and that future is extinction.

A reminder of the final history that awaits us all.

No comments: