We have many, many problems, but this is one of the worst. Because Reality is not something we can do without. Reality, on the other hand, can easily do without us.
As I said before, I am reading Pandora’s Hope by Bruno Latour – and he is warping my mind. I am discovering that I too, do not like to know things that are too far different from what I already know. He is patiently trying to take me back through the brambles and thorns of Modern History to the point where we went wrong.
Something I am sure most people are not interested in doing at all. Because they are not interested in Reality at all. And they do not want to know this.
I have been forced to this conclusion over and over. People do no want to know, or to understand – they want to be entertained, to be distracted. Instead of working at understanding the world – they work at not understanding it. And are highly pleased when they succeed – in spite of their basic instincts.
Let me put this in context. I was at a neighboring town yesterday to pick up the results of my medical tests. I don’t have a car, so I travel by bus, which is usually no problem. But yesterday the bus was very late, and I had to wait for a long time in unpleasant circumstances, forced to see what I didn’t really want to see – how the locals were coping with their stressful world.
For many of the younger woman, they were coping by being blatant sexual objects – something Latin America encourages. The men are interested in power, and the woman are interested in capturing that power. It is all about power – in one form or the other. The result is a society that has never gone anywhere, and never will. Because it has never learned how to cope with power.
America (North America) by contrast, did have a good (but far from perfect) understanding of the use of power at its beginning. I am listening to a biography of George Washington, and he was very sensitive to this issue. He did not want power for himself, but only for the nation he was founding. He was focused on being the Father of His Country, because he knew history would remember him for that. – as it certainly has, to an exaggerated degree.
This attitude is completely foreign to contemporary Americans, who are only out for themselves. The result is easy to see. America is becoming an underdeveloped country. But let me return to Reality.
Latour points out that Modern History resulted in our being disconnected from it – and with no way of reconnecting. This is hardly a novel observation, but his approach is different – because his field is Science Studies. He points out, correctly, that Science does have a way of connecting to Reality, and takes us on a field trip in Brazil to show how this works in practice – step by logical step.
Scientists, far from being disinterested observers, are human – and very much so. But they work at staying connected to the real world. This is no doubt why society has become anti-scientific – and strongly so. It wants nothing to do with Reality, and says loudly to itself that it does not exist – and even that it must be destroyed.
Singing loudly, and in unison, that “Nothing bad is going on!”