Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Looking up

As an antidote to a previous gloomy post, here is Lewis Thomas:
I believe fervently in our species and have no patience with the current fashion for running down the human being as a useful part of nature. On the contrary, we are a spectacular, splendid manifestation of life. We have language and can build metaphors as skillfully and precisely as ribosomes make proteins. We have genes for usefulness, and usefulness is about as close to a "common goal" for all of nature as I can guess at. And finally, and perhaps best of all, we have music. Any species capable of producing, at this early, juvenile stage of its development -- almost instantly after emerging on earth by any evolutionary standard -- the music of Johann Sebasian Bach, cannot be all bad. We would to be able to feel more secure for our future, with Julian of Norwich at our elbow: "But all shall be well and shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well." For our times have guilt we have Montaigne to turn to: "If it did not seem crazy to talk to oneself, there is not a day when I would not be heard growling at myself, 'Confounded fool. ' "
-- from The Youngest and Brightest Thing Around, republished in The Medusa and the Snail (1979)

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