Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Hell Is Other People
To every man is given the key to the gates of heaven; the same key opens the gates of hell. - Buddhist Proverb.
In case you haven't gathered as much, I'm not the mystical sort. I've got no use for the waxworks inhabiting the pontificals of my youth, really; but save your three bong hit dissertations on rationalist ethics too. If Darwin is your pope, you've still got a pope.
The Golden Rule. Sermon on the Mount. The Ten Commandments. I'd bet 99% of the people who have ever trod the earth would agree to live under that framework. Then they'd kill each other for ten millenia over punctuation or something. Things are only useful in practice. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
I "invent" things all the time. They are of the most modest and unpretending sorts of accomplishments, and not very interesting to anyone not intimately involved in what I'm doing. I'll take a scrap of plywood, and screw some blocks on it just so, and a table leg will fit between some of the blocks, which likewise register the position of a tool that cuts a mortise in the leg in a precise and repeatable pattern. Thus I am more efficient, and eat more often.
The utility of such a thing is apparent to me. It is obscure to my best friend. To a stranger, it is literally unknowable. You can never know everything. You can't even know very much about very little any more. We are not agrarian subsistence farmers in a Newtonian Universe any longer. You're reading this, aren't you?
Is the Internet Good, or Evil? How about a gun? A chainsaw? Petroleum? A jig to mortise table legs?
The question is silly. But I can assure you, that when you see someone ask such questions, with the intention of allowing them to regulate you on the basis of an assessment of inanimate things being "Good" or "Evil," you are looking at: Evil.