Sunday, September 30, 2007

Shadow over Columbia

"This is the great vice of academicism, that it is concerned with ideas rather than with thinking."
___Lionel Trilling

What a depressing, dispiriting fiasco it has been, to have seen the shadow of evil pass through columbia university not only unscathed, but enlarged, this past week.

The iranian president was able to advance his agenda, Dean Bollinger; do you think you were somehow able to advance yours..?
The most distressing part for me: students actually applauding ahmadinejad's "lecture"...

Normally I'm a pretty optimistic guy, prone to looking for the seed of good in things, but I confess that I have been absolutely demoralized by this whole visit and its aftermath. It's hard to find any silver lining this time, with this story.
It feels like bad news all the way, top to bottom. A clear sign of the coming of the end, not far down the road.

To in order to keep the light of one's faith burning even when it becomes drenched by overwhelming darkness, it's important to constantly act on that faith, lest the delicate flame be extinguished from lack of attention. Therefore, looking for something, anything, any one thing that I could do to keep faith in the likely preservation of the values of western civilization, I channelled my despair to productive ends, hopefully, by giving my outrage shape and form through this video.

Thank God that once I started doing this one thing, it became possible again to continue to keep faith in our ability to survive the shadow of evil creeping upon us... like rising from one's bed on the mornings we've been denied a good night's sleep. On such occasions we blearily, mechanically think of little, immediate tasks; turning off the alarm, sitting up, turning on the light... from there it is easier to imagine being at work and facing the day's labors ahead.

Today, for me, the darkness of cynicism is vanquished temporarily, pushed back for one more day. As with the west's larger conflict with the nihilist evils against which it finds itself engaged in battle, we can at least bring ourselves to imagine pushing defeat away, for a time, even if we can't quite imagine victory.

That's a start.


truepeers said...

If evil were not always with us, we could not have optimism. Without faith in face of evil, how could one hope to taste God's grace? Without naive and righteous university students, how could we have wisdom? I look forward to being on a computer where I can watch this video!

I really like your Trilling quotation. We need to think about how we can do more to show what real thinking is.

dag said...

Well, I was thinking! When I saw the title I thought I would be reading a story about Hugo Chavez. Pretty close, huh?

If it weren't so early in the morning I'd include some quotations by Christopher Lichtenberg. Too groggy as yet. But he's up there with Trilling.