Inflammation & swelling

There is no future in big. I say this with my usual authority. It is a point I have been making in a desultory way, for the last fifty years or so, along with my increasingly violent opposition to progress, and revulsion for technological innovation.

I suppose this gestalt has become slightly more popular, as I discern from YouTube, where for instance Mary Harrington declares that she is a reactionary feminist, consciously opposed to progress; and the late Colombian aphorist, Nicolás Gómez Dávila, is more frequently mentioned in Facebook and Twitter. I do not count this as progress of the progressive sort; but rather as illustrious movement, backwards. For I don’t think history is like an automobile, that may be put into reverse by dancing with one’s toes. Like birds, instead, history moves persistently forward, merely turning this way and that; for like birds it is flighty. Even the victims of the birds of prey are nudged continually forward.

Death of course cannot be avoided — it seems that it is built into every finite model, and put at the end of every successful chase. All progress must end in extinction. This includes the progress that is tallied as expansion, whether of nations, businesses, or waistlines. How foolish to be a politician, or other “activist” or “patriot,” who extends his national frontiers or GNP or dining by his aggressive manoeuvres. He makes more room for other men to hate him, and will be despised wherever he impinges. He may find allies, too, but these will first consult their own interest and soon flee his clawing, imperial embrace.

Growth itself is an illusion, whether or not it is done at the expense of competitors, and indeed mere longevity is an empty accomplishment, in view of the subsequent everlasting death. Temporal infinity can be no friend to the living.

History offers brief fame to only a few, but not after consulting them, or for anything they designed. Indeed, a frank survey of the famous, beyond revealing that each ends in demise, reveals that in life it is an unattractive station: for the larger the reputation the more easily it is assailed. Reputations would better be preserved by hiding.

In each of these categories, bigness must prove a disaster, for the person who contrives to be big, as for the subjects on which he will confer bigness. For all those around, it is also a terrible inconvenience. For whether or not “small is beautiful,” it is always selected by the wise.