Friday, October 31, 2008
You can't get any more 1974 than Gordon Lightfoot, I don't think. Ah, what is the answer to this mystery that is 1974?
Some of you may be wondering why I keep putting up stuff from 1974. Well, the reason is that I think something happened in 1974, some earth's-destiny-changing event, like Aramazd going up against Ahriman in a battle that would decide the fate of the cosmos. I'm not kidding. I don't exactly know what happened, but I think Nixon had something to do with it, but, say, a rabid dog running down the street might have just as well been the cosmos-redirecting event, too--nobody really knows. But the point is that something unusual happened in 1974, and that is why I am a bit fascinated by it. If you've ever read Philip Dick's VALIS you know what I'm talking about.
If you haven't read the books, then here's what I'm talking about. (And, by the way, I don't necessarily see the world the way Dick did in that book, but I certainly dig[g] the way he soldiered through it). Life is a monolith, a thing, an ontological fact. Life is an inexplicable something. If you took this monolith, this thing, and you put it up in front of Confucius, Socrates, and all the philosophers from then until now, Hume, Kant, Hegel, and, yes, Derrida, and you asked them to try to explain it, to understand it, to say just what is it, they would come up with an answer, a characteristic answer. Would the answer have anything to do with the thing, the monolith? Why, no. But it would be a characteristically human answer. The answer would explain not the monolith, but it would speak volumes about humans. See where I'm coming from?
(And, by the way, saying that Being is an a priori concept that we humans bring to the world, a la Kant, still doesn't explain why things are a priori.) What is this thing? What is being? Explain it.
In 1974, human answers were happening. People were coming up with answers, with art, in a way that hasn't happened since then, for 34 years. I don't know why. The monolith stays the monolith, but the human attempt to explain it intensifies periodically.
That was 1974. And it is happening again this year.
UPDATE: While I was writing this post, something started itching in the back of my mind, like right around where the cerebral cortex meets medulla at the spine, if it does...well, you know what I mean. So I scratched the itch, that is, paid attention to it, and I remembered that Something Happened, Joseph Heller's book, was published in 1974.
If I remember correctly, standing in front of a door and being simultaneously horrified, terrified, and enraptured by the idea of opening it was the matrix that the story grew out of. Here is Wiki's bullshit take on it. Kurt Vonnegut had a lot more interesting things to say about the book. Here they shoot the shit about things.