Sunday, June 30, 2013

Daisies grow in the meadow without a plan

Malcolm Gladwell has done it again!!! In The New Yorker for June 24, 2013 he has written an article called "The Gift of Doubt" on pages 74-79. It's a review of the book, Worldly Philosopher; The Odyssey of Albert O. Hinchman by Jeremy Adelman (Gladwell calls this "a biography worthy of the man" so, as soon as I finish Kafka, I am going to get it onto my Kindle!) Once again, I am introduced to someone I have never heard of who has so many appealing insights and ideas. Some of these I have entertained myself in embryonic form. Here is a Hinchman quotation Gladwell supplies from the book.

"While we are rather willing and even eager and relieved to agree with a historian's finding that we stumbled onto the more shameful events of history, such as war, we are correspondingly unwilling to concede--in fact we find it intolerable to imagine--that our more lofty achievements, such as economic, social or political progress, could have come about by stumbling rather than through careful planning. . . .Language itself conspires toward this sort of asymmetry: we fall into error, but do not usually speak of falling into truth." (page 75)
I had never heard of this HInchman before and am very glad I have now. I'll be thinking/talking more about this tomorrow and maybe even the day after that. For many, many years I have been watching the things I care about (wildlife, birds, forests, bodies of water, the lives of children, various forms of social progress) as  multitudinous individuals and groups try to instigate changes they think will be useful. Using meetings, agendas, demonstrations, fundraising, legal challenges, and streams of written and videographed propanganda, they have demonstrated again and again the futility of most of this.

Careful examination of the past by a clearthinking mind may give us some useful clues! Good Night!

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