Saturday, October 15, 2005

Theses on the Concept of History

Marx remarks somewhere that "Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce." He, Marx, forgot to substitute "seven times" for "twice," and to add: the third time as English pantomime, the fourth time as Punch and Judy show, the fifth time as bear baiting, the sixth time as cock fight, and the seventh (and last) time as Battlebots Tournament.

The future used not to be what it had already been.

Those who misremember the past are condemned to flatter themselves that they are repeating it.

Here is Dostoevsky on human nature as he conceived of it in 1864: "It seems to me that the meaning of man's life consists in proving to himself every minute that he is a man and not a piano key. And man will keep proving it and paying for it with his own skin; he will turn into a troglodyte if need be." But in the early twenty-first century man has long since ceased to mind being treated as a piano key; indeed, he has long since been all too content to be treated as a piano key on the condition that the keyboard in question is sufficiently up-to-date--such that, for example, in 1986, the psychiatric equivalent of the Casio SK-1 perforce outranked the parallel equivalent of the Steinway concert grand.

In ancient times, on being confronted by the spectacle of a natural disaster or some other great calamity, people used to say, "There but for the grace of God go I"; now they say, "There by the grace of the commodity I need never fear going."

Avant nous la deluge; après nous, rien (sauf, évidemment, les gens robotiques).

Dead is the new dead.

The mote in your neighbor's eye is the best inverted telescope.

It is perhaps certain that nothing will happen to anyone anywhere ever again.

In the present epoch, capitalism may be faceless, but it is assuredly not assless. The capitalism of today is, in fact, a six-billion-brown-eyed Anti-Argus. Every human brain is a colon of this monster, and every human mouth is an anal iris perpetually discharging, in the form of gormless chatter about commodities, a stream of verbal sewage into the intellectual ether.