I am reflecting this week on Stephen Greenblatt's book, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, which concerns itself with the mood of Europe in the early 1400s, but in particular the career of one Poggio Bracciolini, a poor boy whose beautiful handwriting took him to the center of power as secretary-scribe to the first Pope John XXIII (deposed and de-Poped), and later as key agent to unlocking the lost secrets of classical antiquity.So then he goes on to tell the story in his inimical style . . . And he ends like this, which is the point:
I mention these old and arcane matters because the mood of humanity lately seems to be darkening again, and to some large degree for understandable reasons. Between the melting of the polar icecaps, the destruction of all edible life in the oceans, and the vulgar spectacle of the paved-over American landscape with its clown monuments mocking all civilized endeavor, and a long list of other insults to healthy life on earth, there's a lot to be depressed about. We stand to lose a proportional amount of human capital accumulated over the past five hundred years as the benighted people of post-Roman Europe lost, and it may take us a thousand years or more to recover - if we recover at all.I love this guy!
It's especially disturbing to see the infiltration of the latest version of Jesus mumbo-jumbo - Southern Republican Nascar Evangelical orthodoxy - take over the collective mind of the USA. The poverty of ideas this represents can't be overstated and the timidity of any opposition to it is a disgrace to our heritage. Maybe that's an argument for electing a Mormon president, since that peculiar branch of the church is so self-evidently childish and ridiculous that it will probably do more to defeat religious fanaticism than all the humanist dissertations ever written - or a thousand clones of Madonna Ciccone dancing in stadiums under laser beams in titanium brassieres.