Sunday, July 30, 2006

Which world?

If you look at Cosmic Variance or CVJ's new blog, Asymptotia, you wouldn't know that a couple of wars are on. In contrast, there is SusanG's lament about a loss of innocence on

Which world do we live in? Is it the idyllic world biking to the farmers' market for fresh veggies? Or is it the dangerous world, where one has to learn about a lot of things fast, and constantly, in a mostly futile effort, raise one's voice against lunacy, where one cannot afford to be ignorant about anything?

... in all cases above, I'd begun my acquaintance because of headlines and horrors and a screaming, driving voice in my head: There's something wrong! There's something very, very wrong! Learn about it! Fast!

The jumble of panicked facts I feel I've had to jam into my brain to qualify as a reasonably informed citizen makes my skull feel swollen, as though I've had to take a crash correspondence course - sometimes several at once - at the same time I'm in a sprint for my mental life.


cvj said...

Hi Arun,

Thanks for the link. I'd like to point out a couple of things though:

(1) There are several wars and large scale injustices of various sorts going on around the planet at any time. Considerably more than a couple, in fact. It is obvious that we live in both/all of the worlds that you mention. To take part in one is not inconsistent with taking part in the other. It is all connected, and -as I hope you're aware- it is naive to think that they are not. The fact that I go on and on about biking everywhere (not just to the market to be fresh veggies) is not accidental. The not-so-subtle-to-detect subtext of my talking about biking and mass transit a lot on CV and (to come) on Asymptotia is to highlight our dependence upon oil, and the destruction of our environment, and to highlight that there are other choices about how we can run our lives. It is a modest effort to point up how we might all think about trying to do our part to stop that oil dependence. Now, what do you think most of the destruction taking part in the Middle East is about? What is the single most important point of tension on our planet today and for a long time before and for a long time to come? The West's dependence upon oil. So choosing to blog about riding my bike to places and maybe result in new habits being formed that might make us more mindful of our energy sources... that's just as relevant to the wars as anything. And perhaps a more original take than just sitting around wringing my hands about it.... which leads me to the next point:

(2) It is not clear what meaning there is to be gathered from the absence of me or anyone else tearing their hair out about the wars on their blog. Several, more well informed people are doing a very good job of it already, and also on the several other wars and injustices that you did not mention. I'd rather be silent, keep my (considerable) despair about the situations to myself and in private conversations than rush to go "me too!" for the sake of it. So I take part in discussions, read my share of the news, and go and listen to and support talks by voices not heard too loudly about some of the current situation. (Actually, if you search CV you'll see posts of mine reporting upon some interesting public talks and gatherings about Iraq.) When the right thing comes along that is worth pointing out to my readers (a fact, or a point of view), I'll be sure to do it, but not simply for the sake of doing so. It's too obvious, and too redundant. That's not why I blog.

It is great that you choose to add your voice to the chorus in the way that you do. Well done... but don't interpret silence of others as indifference. And look closely at the subtext of what is being blogged about, since you might find that there are things being said. Just quietly.



cvj said...

Hi, I thought some more on your musings, and wrote a post about it. See here.