Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Natural processes

Yes, it's great to have a pacemaker and renewed energy. Yes, it will be terrific if knee surgery gives H pain-free and better mobility. Yes, the miracles of medicine are, well, miraculous.

But something is missing from this equation. Where is an appreciation for old age? Where is an appreciation for death? That's right, an appreciation for death. Where is an understanding of natural processes, of which aging and death are parts? Our miracles taste like excuses to avoid facing reality.

Manipulating natural processes, of course, is the American way. And in the past it's always surprised us with unexpected and unanticipated consequences. Hence global warming. Indeed one might say this is our species' fatal flaw, an arrogant determination to make Nature better than we found it. But Nature always gets the last word.

Instead of all this energy directed at trying to recapture youth, how about an appreciation of aging and dying as natural phenomena with special, indeed admirable, qualities?

Re-reading Dark Ages America by Morris Berman. No one has nailed the culture's realities today better than Berman, here and in the earlier The Twilight of American Culture.
The truth is no less true because it is depressing, and to ignore or suppress it because it may not make one happy is the behavior of fools. This book was written for those individuals, American or not, who are more interested in reality than illusion, more committed to understanding America as it is than in being comforted by a fantasy of what it is, or of what it might supposedly become.

Come January, I'll have been blogging for ten years. How time flies etc.

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