The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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Thinking Backwards

April 28th, 2008 · No Comments

The great mad painter and pulp writer, Richard Shaver, was convinced that the sun had become poisonous, and had repolarized our brains, so that we think backwards.  We mistake beauty for ugliness, and evil for good.  That’s why we act the way we do.

I suspect he was wrong about the sun; but he may have been right about our brains.  We prefer fanaticism to tolerance, ignorance to education, meanness to generosity, order to chaos, prudishness to frankness, falsehood to honesty.  We poison our air and water, and decimate other species, because we prize money over survival.  We even prefer bad food to good, and would rather stuff ourselves with the most appalling crap than tuck into a salad.

Of course, these are all truisms.  That means they’re true.  And?  We can be cynical about our situation, or we can try to improve it.  Maybe we can do both.

There is, then, a reason to be contrarian.  It’s not just willful; it’s an attempt to repolarize our brains.  If everything were dandy, it would be pointless.  But everything is not very dandy, and paradox may help turn us around.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

Tags: Belief Systems

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