Thursday, December 5, 2013

I have always been...

...flabbergasted to the point of stupefaction by intellectual complacency.

Self-satisfaction and metaphysical obliviousness are expressed in myriad versions. Even some folks who read W.G. Sebald manage to constrict themselves within a Sebaldness to the exclusion of anything else -- it beats anything I've ever seen! Such literary specialists have allowed themselves to become blithe and daft from hyperventilating into a single paper sack, so to speak. Yes, Sebald opens us up to a universal suspicion about the nature of time and entropy. But that opening should retain its spiritual openness. The reader shouldn't then shrink his own world view into a microscopic obsession with Sebald. That goes for any other form of intellectual pathology coalescing around a fixed idea.

The world is big and too unusual for any kind of existential complacency.

Read New York literary critics, read science articles, read writers on the performing arts, read economists, philosophers, theologians, sports analysts, cultural mandarins. Read all that stuff until you realize those folks are self-blinded to the chronic peculiarity of being, to the uncanny fact of fact and event as such. The depth of their complacency is beyond measure, therefore causing a squeamishness in their observer.

Trust instead the wandering, eclectic hobo, in black cape and drenched rain hat. He or she walks with a limp and is usually found on the questionable side of the road. He or she has a bag of mysteries slung over his or her shoulder. Restless, forever moving, our intellectual hobo has darting, dubious eyes that never settle on one object, has a physiognomy that reveals perplexed wonder, speaks a language that is not at home among the sound of smug voices.


  1. When I read the word "complacency", I immediately thought of intellectual laziness, which has been perfected by the citizens of our quote unquote democracy to a platitudinous perfection. I am not sure which figure gives me more cause to sigh: the teenager watching chipmunks turn somersaults on Tumblr repetitively, or the lonely intellectual in his ivory tower, knowing that, because he is so rare, his words will emerge sounding like an oracle precisely because he has put more than 30 seconds of thought behind each sentence. Actually, it is my own conscience that plunges the knife deeply, when I realize on an almost constant basis, how lazy (yawn) I am intellectually. Death to the inner philistine!!

    1. I think my piece is mostly rambling and somewhat incoherent. I don't mean to say that folks shouldn't be interested in particular things, especially folks who make a living from a particular interest. I guess what I was trying to get at is how tunnel vision can set in, how a person can become identified with a certain thing to the exclusion of other things. To the exclusion of a wider, vaster metaphysical context to life. I think I'm also just grumpy and like to complain. :)