onsdag 2. mai 2007

Moldbug: He who refuses does not repent

This is an abbreviated post. The original can be found here.

I like this poem by Cavafy:

Che Fece... Il Gran Rifiuto
For some people the day comes
when they have to declare the great Yes
or the great No. It's clear at once who has the Yes
ready within him; and saying it,

he goes forward in honor and self-assurance.
He who refuses does not repent. Asked again,
he would still say no. Yet that no - the right no -
undermines him all his life.

Why am I writing Unqualified Reservations, you might ask? What am I trying to convince people of? Lots of writers want to convince people of things. Historically, most of them used books. These days we're shifting to the Internet, but most bloggers would still be happy with a book deal.

Convincing people of things was historically a very messy business, but about 60 years ago, journalists and professors and their friends got themselves organized and formed the modern press and university system, which is essentially one large institution with very little intellectual diversity. There was probably more intellectual diversity in the Catholic Church under Pio Nono. There's somewhat more intellectual diversity in think tanks like the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, but they're tiny compared to the modern university system.

To get back to Cavafy, this system is an environment of the great Yes. It rewards joiners and alliance-builders. It's sort of like a mafia. Now, I admit that there's a place in the world for the great Yes, but it's not at Unqualified Reservations. (I don't have a great No either, just a regular No.) What I'm writing at UR is an alien perspective, a worldview as unfamiliar as I can make it. (I'm not a literal alien, but if there were an alien journalist writing reports on Earth, I'd love to get my hands on a copy.)

An alien perspective is not concerned with popularity, and is useful in recognizing shared false assumptions. I try to build one by thinking from scratch, using precise words, and inventing new ones if there aren't any. This isn't foolproof, but it's what I know how to do.

If you want something else, the most widely available alien perspective I know of is "paleoconservatism", which consists of evaluating the present by the standards of the past. This usually requires reading a lot of old books. My objection to it is that it seems to go out of its way to be inaccessible to the uninitiated.
(Editor's note: Yes, Moldbug really has the chutzpah to complain about this.)
Me, I like to think that I'm judging the present by the standards of the future, writing about 2007 the way people in 2107 will. I have no illusions that 2107 will actually turn out like this, though. So my views are just my own. I blog because a few people, who had probably had too much to drink, asked me to. You know who you are.

Perhaps it's shameless immodesty, but I like to think of Unqualified Reservations as Blogger's answer to Laphroaig. The first time I actually bought a bottle of Laphroaig, maybe twelve years or so ago, I of course intended to share it with my then girlfriend M., a woman of remarkable forthrightness. She had never tasted the stuff, so I poured her some. She took a sip. "It tastes like burning plastic," she said.

And, in fact, Laphroaig does taste like burning plastic. But it's good burning plastic. I drank that bottle myself, and many more after it. He who refuses does not repent.

Ingen kommentarer:

Legg inn en kommentar