My prophet and his fascinating prophecies

Tuesday, 07 June, Year 8 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

Ioan Luca Caragiale is rightfully regarded as the Greek that wrote the software package on which Romania runs. Here's a fragment from the late 80s. The 1880s :

Do you recall, reader, that sweet old tale ? A father in law had two sons in law, one a brickmaker and the other a gardener. The old man's daugthers prayed God - one, for ample rain, so their cabbages may grow ; the other, for dry weather, so their bricks may dry. "Two you are to the house", said the old man, "and God himself can't satisfy you both!" Such is our world, like that house, irredeemable, because it has simultaneously diametrically opposed needs : the gain and satisfaction of one is the loss and contrariation of another.

Here's the wonderous invention of printing.

What couldn't a speaker, or a poet say about the benefits of Gutenberg's discovery ? But it gave blind humanity the light of eyesight! But it tore the chains of slavery! But it has risen from centuries' neglect and ignorance races that seemed cursed to eternal darkness and ill luck, calling them forth to the dignity of historical life! It civilised the beasts of the field! It consecrated Liberty, Equality and Fraternity! It enthroned and defends the holy rights of humanity and of man! Pray tell, what didn't it do ?

Yet I'm neither a speaker, nor a poet, to catch just like that, from clear skies, and burn enthused for the invention of the printing press. Rather I say plainly, and without abusing the exclamation points, that it was a great fortune on one hand and a horrible loss on the other. We owe this invention, it is true, a significant portion of material progress, through development of sciencei, through the spread, quick and wide, of positive knowledge ; but just as true is that in the field of letters, the press not only did no notable good, but it ruined things. Here's the two irreconcilable daughters : it rained abundantly, the cucumbers grew splendidly, but the bricks turned to soup.

The printing press gave birth to a colossal error, specifically : it made people think that literature is a work of palpable utility, that the art of letters is an immediate necessity for human society, that it's here to bring direct, practical, positive benefit.

So was confused the song without purpose with a recipe of certain curative potential, and the useless flower with the useful fruit. Everyone went furiously into the gardening of flowers, there wasn't a spot of earth left unflowered, and the human herd, busting into endless orchards, set itself to grazing hungrily on flowers - flowers, flowers and more flowers.

Thus there's today no distinguishing of a flower from another ; they're all equally graze-able : cypress spurge and rare hazel flower ; the Siras rose as well as the thistle flower on the roadside. And there isn't a mouth which, chewing the cud, does not have its tiny exclamation of satisfaction or displeasure, but in any case asserting its competence, the sensibility and authority of its own personal taste. This one's good! Excellent! I like! This one makes no sense! This one's not piquant enough! This one should have ripened more! This one's withered! This one's green!

And that's then called the vastness of modern literature and the popularization of the art of letters : all cultivate it, all graze upon it, all ruminate.

And so appeared countless styles, and schools, and authorities and tendencies and fashions and reputations. Just as once it was said that on the Earth's face there isn't a moment without a birth and a death, we can say today there's not a moment without the production of two flowers and the grazing of three.

From the peak of mountains to the bottom of the bottom of the valleys sizzle the wheels of printing presses without a moment's repose, pouring forth haystack upon haystack of flowers for the ruminant herd, and still can't best the terrible hunger, all the more insatiable as the process of digestion is the more pointless and unproductive : mere irritation of physiological function without the shade of benefit for the organism - rosin chewed and drooled pointlessly.

From this it then follows that the rare flowers, which should have made the place's glory, are lost, drowned in the vast wealth of weed, which truly should have been weeded out. From this then follows that when you want a flower, from which you, as a sane individual, expect that which a flower may give, beauty and scent, rather than taste and nourishment, you're stuck visiting the same few old pots on your own windowsill. In any public venue it's very hard, if not outright impossible, to find what you're looking for.

"Coetera desiderantur", these are the final words, the last, unfinished sentence of that classical work, left to us, unfortunately, fragmentary. Coetera desiderantur! As are desired the lost arms of Venus, as is desired the rest of the group. Where is the youthful, easygoing Paris ? Where's the noble arm receiving the Apple ? Where might be that coetera, splendid closing of Tacitus ?

– Ah, see ? The printing press! If only it existed, someone says, you wouldn't wist for it, because you'd have it.
– No, I answer ; not at all.

Without the press, I had it, I have it at least up to coetera desiderantur, and I'm satisfied with that much, aside any regret for what is lost. But were there a printing press I'd have lost it all, the flower'd have been lost to all, forever buried in the vast abyss of weeds. I do not trust my own judgement enoughii, and others' not even that much, to believe that in an immense ocean of weed it might denounce to my eyes a noble flower drowned in thicket shade.

So, once more : the results of the printing press on the practical, utilitarian side are doubtlessly happy ; on the beaux letters, however, they're unhappy ; in the first it helps us find for sure, and in the second makes us certainly lose.

The only function of "raising awareness" is to make you less aware of the people and ideas that actually matter. Remember that.

———
  1. There's some discussion of how this boomerang cracked our skull in How to deal with pseudoscience ? []
  2. On this point, Ballas controls. []
Category: Cuvinte Sfiinte
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2 Responses

  1. It'd also seem to have the function of raising the tuition prices of those places that promise to guide one through the weed patch.

  2. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    2
    Mircea Popescu 
    Tuesday, 7 June 2016

    Like what, google ?

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