Dec 11, 2013
June Gloom With Lewis Lapham
Posted on Sep 2, 2011
By Mr. Fish
Fish: Do you think it will take a catastrophe to wake people up to the necessity of that?
Lapham: Yeah, I think so—but again, the language that that will be expressed in has to be congenial to the electronic media. Maybe we’ll end up with a language that is more like a rebus or the Egyptian hieroglyph.
Fish: I would tend to think that the language would have to be detrimental to the electronic media—you know, that it should be the antithesis of the burgeoning shorthand that our increasing reliance on our technological advancements demand—if there’s to be any hope for our survival. It’s about learning how to deepen our comprehension of existence, to pause for contemplation rather than to merely ping-pong from one reaction to the next. Modern technology is much more prone to distracting people away from self-examination and self-discovery than encouraging [it], and we’re getting to the point where we’re able to create more and more abstract ideas that are more valuable than—and therefore more detrimental to—our own physical well-being. Again, I tend to think that the solution is often overlooked because of its simplicity and that sometimes obviousness is a camouflage. Getting back to Jesus Christ and what made his teachings revolutionary—it wasn’t the idea that if you structured your life a certain way that you’d be able to fly around in a nightgown with all your friends after you died, but rather it was about how the meek are worthy human beings. That idea was extremely radical at the time because it had nothing to do with any of the magic and fairy tale found elsewhere in the Bible, but instead it had the strength of being grounded in reality, the reality being that all human beings have value.
Lapham: Well, yeah, [Jesus] is coming into the world when all of the societies at the time are based on slave labor. He was a radical and was perceived as such, which is why he was crucified. Garry Wills had a column once where he said that, if you’re thinking about Christ, you’re closer to the mark if you’re thinking about Lenny Bruce than you are if you’re thinking of Archbishop Russell. People don’t like to hear the truth. You can go back to Plato who said that, “[People] see only their own shadows or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave.” The truth is like Plato’s notion of the sun: You can’t look at it, and the people who do either go blind or get killed.
1 2 3
Previous item: Iraq and Afghanistan on Stage
Next item: Vandals Assault Roman Treasures
New and Improved Comments