Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Apocalypse Now!

The current apocalypse of climate change ("How Do We React to the Climate Tragedy,"by David Kirkpatrick, Techonomy, 8/13/21) is actually not unusual . Remember the earth was, in all probability, hit by an asteroid which brought about the Ice Age. The Pithecanthropus wandering lazily across the veldt, devouring every creature in its path had the carpet pulled out from under it or the wool placed over its eyes, as it were. Stephen J. Gould postulated the theory of “punctuated equilibrium.” In this view evolution was not a neat, gradual process, but proceeded in fits and starts. Intellectual history mirrors this kind of erratic process. Sensibility is not something that’s made in stone. Romantic love is a labile concept as is the very notion of happiness or even consciousness. Thomas Nagel famously wrote an essay, "What’s It Like to Be a Bat?" which broadens the nature of sensation and perception, extending it into the world of creatures who supposedly have no idea of their own existence. The pandemic has been one of the great historical catastrophes, in the category of the watersheds delineated in Jared Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. It has drastically changed the ways in which people congregate and ultimately seek pleasure and joy. It's just a footnote, but theatrical rollouts of films which were once global events are now multivalent. Scarlett Johansson recently sued Disney over Black Widow, claiming she lost millions in potential profits on the film's release. Instead of going out to the movies on Saturday night, film viewers everywhere are finding it easier and more enjoyable to stay at home and watch Netflix. Would that this phenomenon turned out to be the most significant result of the multi-morbidities which have afflicted this fragile planet!

Read "What is Goodness? Or a Gift of Charoset" by Francis Levy, HuffPost


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