Most weeks I pick up two or three random books (from a local store that sells used books). Some of them I read cover to cover, others – I skim. I find this routine of mine to be an essential part of my mind’s hygiene. Random informational inputs challenge and change my mindware (my assumptions, my fund of knowledge, my association networks).
Here are two thought-notes (that I came across in my readings this past week) that struck a cord with me…
David Weinberger, in his 2002 book, Small Pieces Loosely Joined (about the Web), voices a note of digital-age hope:
Ultimately, matter doesn’t matter. If we can be together so successfully in a [virtual] world [of the Web] that has no atoms, no space, no uniform time, no management, and no control, then maybe we’ve been wrong about what matters in the real world in the first place.
Colin Turnbull, in his 1962 book, The Forest People: a Study of the Pygmies of the Congo, quotes a note of stone-age acceptance:
There is darkness all around us; but if darkness is, and the darkness is of the forest, then the darkness must be good.
The hope of the digital age and the acceptance of the modern-day-stone-age… What a curious clash!
Hope – in its future-focus – is a rejection of what currently is. A fellow mind I know is in the habit of saying that “hope is a mind killer.” In some ways it indeed is, particularly, when in its intensity hope approximates the urgency of wishing, yearning, and longing for reality to be different from what it is.
Acceptance, on the other hand, is all about the here-and-now. Unlike hope, acceptance nails you down to the forest of the present, day and night, both in light and in darkness. If these two – hope and acceptance – were road signs, they’d pointing in two very different temporal directions. And yet – as I see it – there is no hope for the hopes of the digital age without the stone-age know-how of acceptance…
Hope and acceptance – the two dialectic strings that make the mind hum.
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Last reviewed: 9 Jul 2011