Airy Trains

Train
Airy trains are beautiful

There’s something about bright airy trains. They’re beautiful and certainly something to be grateful for, but I think no one really notices. You should. At least once in a while.

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Wrapped up in our own thoughts (music, books, worries, aspirations), we may physically live in this world but are not quite part of it. But there’s nothing wrong with that of course.

We’d probably go mad with sensory overload if we noticed everything without some sort of filter in place. But are we filtering the wrong sorts of things?

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At the peripheries I spot an iPad. I don’t have one. But I’d certainly like one (for free, if possible). I twist in my seat. I’m suddenly not as happy as I was five minutes ago.

So I turn to the airy train for comfort.

But the crowd’s come in.

Beethoven vs. Internet Pornography

I like to think of myself as a rather rational person. I weigh pros and cons before making (fateful) decisions; I (try to) think before I speak; I abhor superstition (as best I can) and gravitate toward science.

And when you tell me that a certain product, idea, or bias is preferred to another, I tend to think that it is superior to that alternative.

But it’s not always so. And Caldwell in his book I quoted just a month ago (Reflections on the Revolution in Europe) puts this point across very well:

Marcello Pera, who as president of the Italian Senate worried greatly about the erosion of Italian culture, uses a convoluted logical formula to show that the cultures of Europe are superior to the cultures of those who migrate there: “If the members of culture B freely demonstrate their preference for culture A and not vice versa — if, for example, migration flows move from Islamic countries to Western countries and not vice versa — then there is indeed reason to believe that A is better than B.” This gives the speaker a warm sense of satisfaction as long as he assumes A means “Western countries” and B “Muslim countries.” But Pera’s rankings will not be obvious to anyone who doesn’t already consider the West superior to the non-West. If you called A “Beethoven’s symphonies” and B “Internet pornography,” the statement would be equally true. Judging merit by following the herd works for economists, but not for cultural historians.

Poetry

My creativity has died. Seriously. I can’t think of new things to say or do. And with the end of my creativity comes a feeling of naught. A feeling that screams silence. A feeling of a nothingness like a heavy fog that’s not quite there but everywhere.

I can’t remember the last time I felt like this but it must have been years ago; what I can remember is that one of the few things that brought me comfort was art. Poetry.

There are few things in this world that can combine existential absurdity with sincere meaning. Like the parent of a newborn staring into its eyes for the very first time: at once both a gift of God, and a pitiful being born into a pitiful world.

A pitiful being who will, one day, be looking into its parents eyes and thinking the exact same thing.