Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dragging Us Whither We Do Not Know

"I propose to evoke for you the disorder in which we live. I shall try to show you the reactions of a mind as it observes that disorder: how, when it has taken the measure of what it can and cannot do, it turns inward to reflect, and tries to picture for itself that chaos, to which, by its very nature, it is opposed.

"But the image of chaos is chaos. Disorder is therefore my first point; it is this I ask you to think about. A certain effort is needed, for we have come to be accustomed to it, we live on it, we breathe it, we add to it, and sometimes we feel a real need for it. We find it all around us and within us, in the newspapers, in our daily life, in our manners, in our pleasures, even in our knowledge. It sustains us; and what we have ourselves created is now dragging us whither we do not know and do not wish to go."

--Paul Valéry, "Politics of the Mind" [1932], in The Outlook for Intelligence

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