Dusk, Dark

Dusk to Dark

I spent the first couple of years at Columbia sitting in this or that class, knowing only a point or two of what was going on, hopelessly behind in the reading, utterly without an explanation for why I hadn’t flunked out, eighteen, then nineteen years old, freshman, then sophomore, junior coming up, when suddenly something the teacher said clicked. He said that modern man was living in civilization’s third period of human eclipse, the words are mine, I don’t remember the teacher’s name (or what the subject was, Humanities, Contemporary Civilization, one of those, just follow the point:

He said that civilized men, since the Renaissance at least, had believed that they were competent to know what was going on (marked contrast to what medievals had believed). Then, three major erosions to that belief.

thanx wikimedia

  1. Copernicus / Kepler
    Earth no longer the center of the universe
  2. Darwin
    Man no longer the center of creation
  3. Darwin
    thanx uctv

  4. Freud
    Man no longer competent to know his own mind
  5. Freud
    thanx peerreviewscience

Night Nighter Meta-nth Night

Yeah. Those points had been building up bit by bit those couple of years. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But then it clicked. Yes! That’s it! 1, 2, 3!
First we told ourselves we were dim. Then, war upon war, we told ourselves we were smart, God’s equal almost. Now: we’re dumb. I get it.

Sub-limit, Check Mate

What I don’t get is why I haven’t heard any invitation from Columbia to return as an expert on the fourth dimness that I’ve led understanding of since Kepler, Darwin, Freud: pk and his analysis of human homeostasis. Not only are we likely to be wrong about cosmology, about astronomy, we’ve long been wrong about species, about geology, about evolution, and we’ve been obtuse about consciousness … pk says that we’re not competent to know whether or not we’ve killed God, whether or not we’re deicides, cannibals, vampires … We’re not competent to know who owns what land, who should get which royalty checks …
If we can’t judge competently on those things, what can we judge competently on?

My teacher was behaving as though we now understood what we hadn’t understood previously: as though there had been progress. My position is that we didn’t know then, and we don’t know now, and we don’t know that we don’t know now.

When I, following Ivan Illich, invented an internet to offer the world as a solution to kleptocracy, a solution to privilege, a check against hierarchical authority and coercion, I did it at Columbia. I was matriculated at NYU, but I was living at Columbia, in Columbia housing: my mother-in-law’s Columbia apartment. The first people I handed my fliers to were Columbia people, walking on College Walk. Does Columbia know that? Does NYU?

Is either institution capable of knowing it?
Isn’t there something about civilization that numbs the mind of the vampire so it doesn’t realize what it is, what it’s doing?

Hey, I’m just bouncing back and forth between edit and view, Oo, I love those pix; but dig this: everyone should notice:

All four of us are bearded!

Sentience & Semiotics

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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