September 13, 2011
Hoping to elevate my thoughts I read the paper, though it made me feel rather like Hegel felt when faced with a glacier:
We have seen the glaciers today at a half-hour’s distance and their vision presents no interest. We can call it a new way of seeing that however offers no new activity of the spirit.
I’d rather read Hegel’s Bernese diary. His descriptions are quite beautiful, like this one of a waterfall:
A thin trickle of water surges from a narrow cleft in the rock then falls back vertically in more substantial streams; streams that continually draw the spectator’s eye, but that he can never fix or follow, for their image dissolves itself at every instant; each stream is at every second chased by another, and in this cascade, the spectator eternally sees the same image, and at the same time he sees that it is never the same. At some distance we see some smoke billowing from a cleft and we understand that it is the spume produced by the fall.
That reminds me of the news, too: a stream of information, a few facts repeated endlessly from paper to paper, from country to country, with the appearance of difference but a deadening unity of message, the same noise, white like the spume, and a little smoke billowing out in a constant emergency. A dizzying effect.
They’ve come up with a certain lense, the journalists, that they call objective, and through which everything is in the same flat focus. The next-door neighbor or the ends of the Earth all become relevant in the same way. It fills the spectator with a dizzying and debilitating mix of envy and pity. Is that on purpose?
One can choose to step away—a little to the left or a little to the right—it doesn’t matter as long as you’re out from under the cascade’s full downfall.
Hegel reminds us:
Looking up is dizzying only when one is at the foot of a vertical wall: if one is, for example, below a church spire and raises one’s eyes to the summit, but not when the eye can measure the height and is at a certain distance.
The train paused in a valley; not the end of the line, but my stop. How crisp and clear the air through which the mountains beamed down at me! How could one be disappointed by this?
But at first glimpse, Wordsworth, too, had been disappointed:
…That day we first
Beheld the summit of Mont Blanc, and griev’d
To have a soulless image on the eye
Which had usurp’d upon a living thought
That never more could be….
But further progress through the gorges and passes did:
make rich amends,
And reconcil’d us to realities.
Some realities need not be reconciled. It is a reality that the prices in the Migros are a direct result of financial-market manipulation; a reality but not a necessity. It is but doesn’t have to be.