16 April 2006

The Evidence Of Things

George Orwell     Many of my pseudo-colleagues in the academic, and especially the literary, world very seldom appreciate that they are among the most dangerous influences on language and thought.  Check out this mea culpa from The Guardian from a counterfeiter begging forgiveness, and this sampling of some of the more egregious examples of intellectual piety run amok.  All this reminds me of George Orwell's claim that language "becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts"  ("Politics and the English Language").  I wonder how many articles in any given year's publications of the MLA would pass Orwell's muster.  Two?  Maybe three?  Probably not.  Orwell's rule number five, on not using jargon terms, would surely slay all but the most truly maverick pieces with Kurosawan ferocity.  (It's okay, though.  Most academics don't respect Orwell anyway.  Snort.)
     Today, I'm reminded, is Easter Sunday, a day I always find alienating, my agnosticism precluding me from accepting the idea of resurrection as anything but a hypothesis.  It's also a day that makes me wonder about the possibility of faith.  Faith has always left me cool-- and skeptical, and occasionally downright put-off.  It's just something I don't have, and almost surely never will have, and I'm deeply distrustful of it.  I often wonder if faith is just an extended lullaby people sing to themselves to allay their own fears and anxieties.  Then again, belief is something I've had trouble with for some time, and faith is effectively a more radical form of belief.  Resurrections?  Ascensions?  Redemptions?  The most stunning resurrection I've ever observed was John Travolta's, and look what he did with it-- namely, Battlefield Earth, a film so wretched that even the most ardent Scientologists have disavowed it.  And people wonder why I'm cynical....  No, faith, like love and calculus, is better left to imaginations greater than mine.  The only miracles I can believe in are the ones that used to backup Smokey Robinson
     That said, I'm not completely churlish: Happy Easter to those of you celebrating today.  Gather ye gaudily-painted ova while ye may. 
     Meanwhile, I get to press through my pile of essays and exams which seems to get larger and larger each time I check my email.  I'm sure I'll be treated to some examples of slovenlieness and foolishness, but will there by any miracles in the lot?  Hmmm.... I'll wait for the evidence of things not yet seen.

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