A friend of mine speaks in proverbs, like an oracle. Like many modern people, she is aware of her habits, but accepts that they are integral to her form of viewing experience, despite her sons' complaints. I mentioned how facing "enormous questions as elementary as nursery riddles" can be a gift.
It is embarrassing to think that people graduate with very elevated degrees without first mastering the foundation of human existence. Gnothi seauton. Some mock the ancient Greeks for being "primitive" - and yet, arguably, central to much of their culture were salubrious reminders of the perilous flaws of man's character. Poets did not begin: "I celebrate myself," but invoked muses who told both truths and lies - and in this way, warned their audience, and possibly themselves, that despite their efforts to reach truth, the attempt can fall short. Last night, my friend said that when one is inclined to speak of others' actions, they ought first to say, "I wish it for myself," meaning that if one observes something good in another, one wishes the same for themselves, if one sees something bad, one is not to dwell on it, lest it befall one. How's that for "the truth"!
If that is true, then what if we - who play at the cultural critic, as in "play the fool" - dwell on the faults of society? From what I have read of Ruskin, while he critiques, he mostly meditates on καλὸς κἀγαθός.
Many people agree that the beginnings of industrialism brought with it its own horror (one has only to think of Conrad's globalist vision, ending in that word); yesterday, an article considered the Chaplin film Modern Times and the industrial horror of having machines do activities for one, and ended on the note that as a result, we are educated into being better consumers in order to perpetuate a automatic industry - even of obscure art. It is a nice illustration of On Technology. But to return to my friend: the way out of the belly of the machine is by taking account of the simplest truths, and look for the best in life. The good.
Last night, I wondered aloud why so many people rush to rally in the new year, only to gorge themselves on some form of consumption. My friend mentioned the need to exit from the quotidian; pause to reflect on where one is going in life; greet people with more warmth. A far cry from what I'd thought of. The critic cannot enter in to that other life, the one she spoke of - that of experience. To enter experience makes one an accomplice. Accomplices cannot be trusted.
On the other hand, it is the accomplices that invent the proverb, and one pair of eyes that cannot be trusted. The proverbs make of life a song, the refrain of the wisdom weaving in and out in unexpected places, contexts that are the same and different, bringing us back into the fabric of humanity. And as for individualist consumerism? "That crocodile on his sweater? Who knows what swamp it crawled out of!" That which is fake proliferates where the nursery rhyme is stifled, making man mute to his childish, egotistical beginnings.