Brilliant and compelling analysis! But if its assumptions have any
validity, why wasn’t all this predicted several years ago? There is an
element of ex post facto cherry-picking, Monday morning quarterback, to all
I can’t help but be nagged by memory of the old fable of the blind savants
and the elephant. Each touches a different part of the animal; trunk, tail,
tusk, leg, sides, and each describes the beast in a different way according
to his own experience. And this charitably assumes none of them has a
particularly ideological agenda, merely an honest difference in perspective.
What is truth? Not just a sophomoric musing, but a dilemma that only gets
more critical the older and wiser I get. As a liberal thinker, I try to see
all sides of an issue, but I only wind up more confused and frustrated by
conflicting interpretations. Science gives us a procedure to determine
truth unambiguously, but the kinds of truths it provides are not the ones we
really want to know. I am paralyzed by indecision instead of seduced by
certainty. Does the historian have the advantage over the journalist of
seeing the past “in context” or “in perspective”? Or is this just the way
he rationalizes the futility of being able to understand the past from a
great distance, when even those embedded in the evolving events, (and
presumably, most intimately connected to them), cannot agree as to how they
I am nostalgic for the certainty and clarity of youth. I was so much wiser,
so utterly and self-righteously convinced, when I was younger. Now I just
The angel of history flies backward. Knowing where we’ve been may only suggest direction, perhaps even a vague inkling of destination.
Back in the days of Disco I traveled to work at a refinery in New Jersey. I flew in with five of my Local brothers. We pooled our cash and rented a Pontiac Parisian to haul us back and forth from the motel in Edison to the Hess refinery at Port Reading. The station wagon had a third row of seats in the back that faced the rear. We’d take turns because it was so cool.
Passing the joint we watched the world leave us as though it had some place to go. We didn’t know where the fuck we were going and didn’t care. Even the dullest of us fell to philosophizing. Couldn’t help it. The ride was a good hour long. Thing is you could still make assumptions based traffic congestion. elevation, industrial parks, small old towns, the speed of bigger highways. But you had to let go, because the world was going by without taking any notice of us. Adding to the glorious helplessness of our commute was the hilarious confusion of the guys facing forward speculating where the hell they were. Jersey is notorious for the maddening confusion of its roadways. Even locals get lost. Filling stations placed big marquee signs out by the street shouting, “NO DIRECTIONS GIVEN!” We never took the same way to and from the job. One time we found ourselves bumper to bumper in a long ass line leading to the Brooklyn Ferry, which of course would take us out of the state. Whoever was driving pulled off a U-turn and rode around lost for a good while through and assortment of hoods until we found ourselves once again bumper to bumper in a long ass line to the fucking ferry. The back back seat was the truly best place to enjoy the ride.
Even if the more I learn the less I know, it is simple to recognize when we are leaving green meadows and the landscape is gradually turning arid.