Thresholds: Edge of Translation
@ K. 2001 10 18
The visitor to Knatz.com may well encounter me saying that communication is something I’m confident I’ve accomplished only rarely. One exception stays with me. I’d said barely a few words, the context being war and politics, when my office-mate interrupted, saying, “Right: there is a difference between an atom bomb and a punch in the nose.” My sally had been along the lines that at some point a quantitative difference becomes a qualitative difference.
Which straw breaks the camel’s back? At what point does the weakest link yield? How many wens turn beauty ugly? How much muscle does a weak man need to be strong? At what point is one ape a chimp and another a human? At what point is one man damned and another exalted? How many miracles does a mortal need to become a god? How many mistakes does a god get before he degenerates into a devil?
I want to discuss thresholds between species of thing. From a distance, distinctions may seem clear: up close they may blur.
When does a trait, beneficial in small doses, become pathological?
What penalty does the society pay for its efforts at an illusion of political uniformity? The White House, the CIA, Congress … Don’t see much harm in lobotomizing the intelligentsia and replacing them with party-line robots: the core never sees itself as in danger from its own behavior …