Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains:
Knatz.com / Teaching / Society / Social Order / Institutions /
2005 12 08, at IonaArc blog
Waste ‘Im: Bang, Bang
Nature is famous for being wasteful: trillions of seeds for mere millions of trees. Everyone knows about the number of sperm in semen, and everyone knows that an awful lot of semen gets jetted into the breeze. But even a woman, who ripens at least one egg a month in her maturity, winds up with far fewer grown children than twelve a year. For all their millions of eggs, oysters do well just to maintain their population (or would if we’d let them).
Nature, whether wasteful or not, has lots of neat ways to have here a beach, there scrub lands, there pine forest, there climax forest — there mountains, there grasslands, there a reef, there deep ocean.
Humans are wasteful. That’s why rats and ‘roaches fare so well among us. Human societies are wasteful. Nature knew how to make deserts without us, but at nothing like the rate at which it makes deserts with us. We lose (read waste) soil, forests, shoreline …
If we had a different perspective, who knows, maybe we’d see nothing as wasted; or, everything as wasted.
There’s no way to tell, so we’d have to ask God, if we could trust him: but this is what I’d like to know:
Is a society with an institution to promote or to preserve something any better at promoting or preserving that something than a society without any such institution?
Lightning must have started many a fire before some animal thought to keep some of the fire going in a fireplace. Sitting in front of their cave, the fire having been domesticated for a million years, the kid gets an idea of how to bank the fire for baking and gets cuffed upside the head by the fire keeper.
Universities are fire keepers of a kind: the appointed fire keepers get tenure, while the kids with ideas get cuffed upside the head. No university was sitting there with a chair ready for Faraday and his electricity; but they had lots of chairs for whale oil captains. They “understood” their oil lamps; not electricity.
Some trees grow, some oysters mature, some babies. Some ideas get through, get a place at the fire: some tiny minority of ideas. And maybe that’s exactly as it should be. Once the critturs have figured out a way to grow a backbone, they’re reluctant to figure out ways not to grow a backbone. Indeed, they’d always already known trillions of ways not to grow a backbone.
So: few ideas get through. Universities get paid to promote ideas: and they do. They promote the ideas they already have. Which still leaves me with my question: which society lets more ideas through: the society with a university, or the society without a university?
I know one thing: the society without a university is cheaper.
Women always had babies. That’s what women do. In fact, many a woman can figure out how to have a baby without having a husband first. But now they can’t figure out how to have a baby without a doctor. And the first baby doctors killed an astonishing portion of their babies, and their women!
Maybe love, and family-making, were better off before there was marriage: before there was this society, before there was this church, before there was this God.
At times I fear Christ threw himself away.
Owen Parry, Call Each River Jordan