Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sky High

I'm not entirely convinced that eating dinner around a long-table hoisted 50 meters (164.04 feet) in the air by a crane (mechanized, not the bird) with chefs serving in the middle of it, would be fun, novel, adventurous, or anything more than merely putting food in your mouth (probably expensively lame food) with no ground immediately below you.

How bored and boring do you have to be to get excited over such a thing? Because it seems exactly one of those things the bored and boringly affluent would do. Why not hoist a platform of slot machines into the air? Like the law in the Old Testament that says the gatherers of wheat and barley had to leave leftover gleanings in the field for the poorer folk, any coins that fell could, by law, be collected by homeless people. "I sometimes let a few slip on purpose", says one boring rich guy to news camera, "You know, it's a new thing, this. It's a lot of fun".

What if someone desperately has to urinate? Do they then lower the crane's arm for a short span, much to the chagrin of all the other rich boring folk? "I wanted full air time, damn it! I didn't get my money's worth!" says one rich boring guy to camera.

I don't take it as a virtue that I have a very poor interest in novelty. When the novelty is real, and not false and boring like dinner in the sky, it is to be sort of admired when someone takes an innocent interest in it, without losing their self-possession and composure, or depth of character.

I know G.K. Chesterton had an innocent, unending interest in novelty. Though of course it seems he never let it take over the vastly more important realization that he was alive; the realization of being alive, unabated, and not aided by consumption, but only by awe. And that for me cuts the difference: novelty that springs as an offshoot from the very abundance of being fully alive, which doesn't dissipate; and the "novelty" that is pursued, through more and more labyrinthine ways, from the fact of one being stultifyingly dead. It would look to an outside superficial observer that there was no difference between the two, that is, until he joined one sort one day, and then joined the other the next.

G.K.C. had a natural suspicion of those sophisticated ones of his day who proclaimed themselves above the pursuit of material pleasure, those teetotalers, sometimes millionares, who said they lived "the simple life" and who thought "the higher thought".

Much has changed, in a sense, since Chesterton's days. First, mediocrity is everywhere practically enforced (something he prophesied); the pursuit of pleasure is frightfully frought with a more and more complex "higher thought", quite the opposite of the usual non-thinking of pleasure-seeking pigs. A veritable tower of Babel is being erected of ever stranger novelty that ends up as a kind of twilight zone where no moral bounds, no sense of beauty, truth or goodness gets to have any say, or have any standard at all.

Look at the "higher thought" of pro-choicers. Look at the "higher thought" of Peter Singer. The evil that is brought on by university professors, the academia and scientists through their ideas is becoming more and more shared by their pleasure-seeking counterparts, who more than likely have never heard of Peter Singer and don't care. What does it mean?

It means the pleasure-seeking of today's materialists (while evil, it is not the more abominable evil) is the unmarked door through which the "higher thought", of the likes of Peter Singer, is silently and unnoticeably getting into their minds and taking root. For everything we do and pursue there is an underlying stance of principle that we concede to. The question is, what is happening in peoples' souls and minds, what are they consecrating their minds to, while they go after ever newer, more novel pleasure?

In the past, say, in G.K.C's day, they were conceding to a quickly-materializing corruption and emptiness. Many repented. Today, the pleasure-seeking has been built up and extended into a kind of virtual reality and sustained fantasy that has never been done before in the past. But it is matched and paralleled with an equally hitherto unseen and underheard of replication of the constructs of life itself. And it is to this "replication" which increasingly immoral pleasure-seeking people are conceding to.

No comments: