I’ve been reading Henry Miller’s Sunday After the War, a present from Mrs. G, and it’s equal parts thrilling, depressing, distressing and hopeful:
The problem of power, what to do with it, how to use it, who shall wield it or not wield it, will assume proportions heretofore unthinkable. We are moving into the realm of incalculables and imponderables in our everyday life just as for the last few generations we have been accustoming ourselves to this realm through the play of thought. Everything is coming to fruition, and the harvest will be brilliant and terrifying. To those who look upon such predictions as fantastic I have merely to point out, ask them to imagine, what would happen should we ever unlock the secret patents now hidden in the vaults of our unscrupulous exploiters. Once the present crazy system of exploitation crumbles, and it is crumbling hourly, the powers of the imagination, heretofore stifled and fettered, will run riot. The face of the earth can be changed utterly overnight one we have the courage to concretize the dreams of our inventive geniuses. Never was there such a plentitude of inventors as in this age of destruction. And there is one thing to bear in mind about the man of genius — even the inventor — usually he is on the side of humanity, not the devil. It has been the crowning shame of this age to have exploited the man of genius for sinister ends. But such a procedure always acts as a boomerang: ultimately the man of genius always has his revenge.
There is so much in there that is brilliantly naive, on point and prophetic. But I have hard time ignoring the idea that if what was happening in the world was happening more quickly, then we might not be able to do such good job of not noticing it:
Even as we watch the entire world’s climate get more and more extreme, our cretinous right wing and their rich patrons treat it as a joke. But that isn’t the whole story. This is a bipartisan war on science. How about the fact that because of our single minded obsession with cutting government spending (while continuing to spend lavishly on our military empire) we are also slashing basic scientific research funds that no “private” entity will finance because there is not immediate profit to be had?
I’ll accept that this is strange concept – things should happen faster in a time when everything is whizzing by. But sometimes that’s what happens when you read some old stuff and think about today.