A call to revolt

Patience is a virtue, one of many I sadly lack. My father, a serious industrial designer and thus a critic of modern industry, decried its general absence. There is a hurry to get things done. This has, no doubt, economic causes, using that term broadly to include deadlines of all kinds — the hurry to get to market, compounded by the incredible mass of tax and regulatory considerations that create a shallow obstacle course through which the creative are compelled to stumble. They function, in effect, as spatial deadlines, intersecting the temporal ones.

Sometimes arbitrary rules are necessary, of course, but the more they are centralized, codified, then subjected to chop and change, the more destructive of human ingenuity, and the more they encourage stupidity, waste, and corruption.

Leisure — in the sense crisply expounded by Josef Pieper and other penetrating Thomists — is eliminated or lethally crimped by these “deadlines.” (See: Leisure the Basis of Culture, trans. Dru, 1952. It has a fine introduction by T. S. Eliot, too, and should be on every idler’s most accessible bookshelf, until he has memorized it.)

Pieper does not say this directly, but I will: the opposite of philosophical leisure is glibness. It has other opposites, but I mention this one because it is involved in almost every form of ignorance, atheism, and sin. Rather than think anything through, to first principles, we race through the equivalent of a hop-scotch course, our minds fully loaded with distraction. We must “touch all the bases.”

Our modern conception of science is a bureaucratic mechanism called “scientific method” which denies the existence of human intuition, and thus our humanity. It is never actually followed — no scientist ever discovered anything in a time-serving, methodical way; especially not on billion-dollar machines. But still we praise and believe in this method, or such derivatives as Popper’s “falsifiability,” because we are easily pleased, profligate, and hopelessly glib.

It is the same in every section of art and design. A few, a very few, independent and searching minds, take the leisure to “build cathedrals,” as it were. They remain conscious not of arbitrary rules, but of Nature and the God who is the source for emulation. The conception of God may take various shapes in the human imagination, but everyone fully alive will know what he means by “God,” even while denying Him.

God is not glib. As evidence, let me cite the extent of the universe, and the complexity of its parts. Yet to the mind of a Darwinist, or other tomfool, God is imagined as a random, non-teleological process; as movement with no end in view. God is conceived as if He were glib.

Ditto on the moral, and legal, planes. We appropriate the divine; declare ourselves authors of goodness and truth; draught standing orders and legislation. We legislate “progress” by intellectual oversight, replacing what is changeless with things that are changing. It is interesting that not only the Christian but the ancient pagan traditions were free of this arrogance, in which we assume that chance and destiny lie within our power. But all human power is illusory. In the end every one of us is dead.

Finally, on the plane of poetry — the embodiment of the beautiful — our poetical feet are caught in catch phrase, cliché. We are going through the motions, like bonobos or bigger monkeys. We perform jingles.

Unless: we stand back from our little games, and take whatever time is necessary, to consult with the ages and the Master of the ages.

Make a stand now, gentle reader! It is time that we staged a Revolt Against Glibness.