August 8, 2015

Saul Bellow on the Great Noise

But isn’t there a branch of the wonderful into which wonderful technology cannot lead us? If there is, how shall we know it? Why, we shall recognize it at once by its power to liberate us from the tyranny of noise and distraction….To be free from this would indeed be wonderful. It would mean nothing less than the restoration or re-creation of culture. Indispensible to such a restoration is the recovery of significant space by the individual, the reestablishment of a region about every person through which events must make their approach, a space in which events can be received on decent terms, intelligently, comprehensively and contemplatively….The destruction of significant space, the destruction of the individual, for is that is what it amounts to, leaves us helplessly in the public sphere. Then to say that the world is too much with us is meaningless for there is no longer any us. The world is everything….
 Am I proposing, then, that we should take refuge from crisis and noise in a contemplative life? Such a thing is unthinkable. I am saying, rather, that there is a mode of knowledge different from the ruling mode. That this other mode is continually operative – the imagination assumes that things will deliver something of their essence to the mind that has prepared itself and knows how to listen. I am saying also that full immersion in the Great Noise will kill us.
                      Saul Bellow, "A World Too Much With Us"

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