Friday, 21 November 2014

Not Monty Python's "The Meaning of Life", But Mine

I have often asked myself, in fact this is something that I continually do, and any readers of my various writings may have asked the same thing, of me or perhaps even of themselves, "Why do I do the things that I do, which separate, differentiate and individuate me from everyone else?".

Why do I take the trouble to step outside of the norm and express views that I consider to be important but which are not the type of thing prevalently expressed or even widely considered in the day-to-day society in which we live?

Why do I choose to take opposing stands to what is expounded to be the true version of events by supposedly expert and influential opinion?

Why do I even open myself to ridicule and criticism by trying to get people to see that the world that they/we know and are reasonably, to a greater or lesser extent, comfortable with and have expectations that this same world will continue in much the same way purely for our convenience for as long as we would like it to do that, at some not too far off point cease to match our expectations?

Why don't I just keep on planting and gardening, simply enjoying life and ignoring what I see as going on around me?  And if I see a future where life will become difficult, dangerous, and very likely deadly, with little prospect of continuing comfort and ease through technology, economic prosperity and their accompanying conveniences, why don't I either end it all for myself personally (you know what I mean, without actually saying it) or join the inevitable rise of lawless mayhem that is coming and go out with a grand bang of looting, rape, brutality and slaughter for as long as it lasts?

I am not alone in considering these things by any means, but it does take someone not too caught up in past tradition or the glamour (in the sense of blinded by illusion) of the rightness, entitlement and inevitability of and to a modern, civilised, cosseted and hugely privileged beyond any previous moment in history, way of life, in order to see it clearly enough to be able to stand outside of it for a moment and actually look at it dispassionately and objectively.

Such thoughts were recently raised in a comment to John Michael Greer's (I keep wanting to call him John-Michael Howson but that, while it creates an interesting mental image, would not do at all) Archdruid Report blog.  The commenter opined, and I paraphrase here, that with the coming devastation that many expect and others don't even want to consider, why bother going on, since a life without technological innovation and scientific discovery would not be worth living?

JMG, the Archdruid (yes, he is a real Archdruid, if such expressions of authority and learning have any actual value, but he is a quite learned and well read person), based his latest post on explaining a few things around this conjecture and the interplay of factual and value judgements.  A good job he did of it too, if I may say, with the inclusion of quite a number of interesting or provocative thoughts, to the extent that I recommend having a read of it here: .   

I just want to highlight a particular quote from that blog post since it also sums up pretty accurately the way I think.  It was also the inspiration for this, my present post on Meanderings.  JMG said:

"As for me—well, all things considered, I find that being alive beats the stuffing out of the alternative, and that’s true even though I live in a troubled age in which scientific and technological progress show every sign of grinding to a halt in the near future, and in which warfare, injustice, famine, pestilence, and the collapse of widely held beliefs are matters of common experience. The notion that life has to justify itself to me seems, if I may be frank, faintly silly, and so does the comparable claim that I have to justify my existence to it, or to anyone else. Here I am; I did not make the world; quite the contrary, the world made me, and put me in the irreducibly personal situation in which I find myself. Given that I’m here, where and when I happen to be, there are any number of things that I can choose to do, or not do; and it so happens that one of the things I choose to do is to prepare, and help others prepare, for the long decline of industrial civilization and the coming of the dark age that will follow it."


  1. I guess that puts it in a nutshell and is also probably my only reason for being at the prepare and help others prepare. Thanks for posting that...I don't read Greer so much any more...he's just become too verbose and I have so much else to read.

    1. Thanks Bev. Yes, I agree, he does sometimes laboriously obscure a point with more words than absolutely necessary. I find myself thinking 'When is he going to get to the point?' and then, when he begins a new thought I have to go back and read it again to see what I missed.

      I think he does that on purpose so that it becomes necessary for readers to be paying close attention. It can be tiresome but he is also occasionally a useful source of a word I have never met before and, although will probably never use, find it interesting to check out the meaning.