Friday, May 18, 2012

May 18th

An excerpt from Steinbeck's Nobel Prize Acceptance speech:
"Literature was not promulgated by a pale and emasculated priesthood singing their litanies in empty churches - nor is it a game for the cloistered elect, the tin-horn mendicants of low-calorie despair. Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of human need for it, and it has not changed except to become more needed."
The question is, why do we need it?  Why is it that the human, no matter how hard he has had to slog just to subsist, has always told stories? When our ancestors looked at the sky, they didn't just see shining points of light, but warriors and animals and gods. The sun was a chariot being drawn across the sky. The seven-cluster of stars was a collection of sisters. We can't help this story-telling even when we try. We're coming out of the scientific era now, not because science has been debunked, but because it has turned full circle and is back to story telling. What else is a theoretical scientist than a myth weaver? We're back to accounting for the ungraspable with stories. A multiverse? Science used to hold its mendicants  accountable for such talk, but now it's a free-for-all. And so much the better. There has been nothing more detrimental to the spirit of the human being than the arrogance of the scientific age. It robbed him of that need to reach and grasp, to understand through stories. Because that very act of humility admits our small place in the totality. It places the human species right where it should be, not outside the process looking in, but as a part fingering its way to a connection with the whole.
So, Harry Potter, Witches, Warlocks, Vampires, Time travel. This is what the new generation is gobbling up faster than it can be printed. And no wonder. We are a starved race. Let the pale and emasculated priesthood sing their litanies. It is magic, not the nuts and bolts of things, that is our ticket out of this low-calorie despair.

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