Confused and Contented in the Garden
“I want to live happily in a world I don’t understand.” The financier/philosopher Nassim Taleb starts one of his chapters with these words in Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder.
Taleb goes to great lengths to point out that modernity (a thing he loathes) is a highly complicated world that, truth be recognized, nobody understands. The world is integrated, labyrinthine, complex, technological, speedy–all adjectives he employs. And he’s right.
It reminds me of a conversation that my wife and I had last spring. She was talking about a friend’s investments and his conviction that the United States economy is going to fall apart. In addition to gold and silver, he’s also buying guns. She asked what I thought, and I basically said, “Yeah, maybe. And definitely, at some point . . . like maybe in 500 years or maybe next week. Who can possibly know? You know what I know? I know that sickly spinach plant I re-planted two weeks ago is going to make it. That’s what I know.”
I don’t understand this world. Heck, it goes beyond that: I don’t understand the world, trust the world, or even particularly like the world.
Now, by “world” I mean the modern world, the cultural-economic milieu in which I find myself. I’m not referring to creation or other people in general. I’m not a Gnostic who thinks matter is evil and the world is run by an evil demiurge. The evil demiurge that most afflicts me is in Washington, DC, and that’s a political statement, not a metaphysical one, though the evil is getting so powerful I’ll soon need metaphysical analogies to capture the enormity of the problem.
The dichotomy between the two senses of the word “world” is instructive. There’s “the … Read the rest