Friday, January 30, 2009

H.L. Mencken

I saw this quote this morning, via Google quotes:

"We are here and it is now. Further than that all human knowledge is moonshine."
- H. L. Mencken

I want to ask myself honestly what is wrong with admitting this fact that so often now my heart wants to admit. Clearly, to admit it would be to downgrade our status in our own eyes, as we have largely absorbed the belief that Knowledge is Power. To say that most of our knowledge, and therefore most of our power, is moonshine, probably wouldn't come as a shock to any of us, but once it sunk in, we'd likely all be in a bit of an existential wonderfunk for a few days/weeks/years, who knows.

But my contention is that this small belief, that "we are here and it is now," is a seed from which all the knowledge we need can be grown. Beliefs such as, "There is a here," and, "There was a then." Certainly the ground of all scientific experimentation lies in these beliefs.

Funny the way that different sorts of people attract our admiration as we get older. Mencken, a journalist, essayist, and acerbic critic of American life, would not have impressed me years ago. Now his quotations make me feel a sort of tender respect for him.

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