Monday, August 31, 2020

The Final Solution: Dr. Bedpan

Lisbon earthquake with tsunami looming
Voltaire parodied the delusory optimism of Leibnitz in his creation of Dr. Pangloss who infamously intones “all’s for the best in the best of all possible worlds” a homily that came on the heels of the great Lisbon earthquake of 1555. But what about outright nihilists and pessimists like Turgenev’s Bazarov in Fathers in Sons? What about an anti-Christ named Dr. Bedpan who cries out “all’s for the worst in the worst of all possible worlds?” The problem with millenarian pessimism is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. While the optimist, however misguided, is a heat seeking missile when it comes to good, the pessimist trumpets the worst. There's glee on his or her face which says “I told you so.” “The masses are the asses,” is a phrase that pessimists enjoy repeating and while they will be the first to admit that there are great leaders whose lives have been devoted to combatting greed and self-seeking, they love to point out the inconsistencies and foibles of even the great. Gandhi may have slept in the nude with young girls to test his control, but it's an anecdote that only demonstrates how desires are always festering. And what about those rumors about Mother Theresa not being so saintly? Are the great and noble souls basically gratifying yet another desire, the wish for sainthood? What’s better? To be a windmill chasing optimist or Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor accusing Christ of heresy?

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