Living Against the Age

He sees that something may bring tangible benefits and boons, and yet lead to decay and deterioration in the long run — and he is therefore eager to retain at all costs the vantage point needed to discern the difference between short and long.

He is suspicious of everyone inclined to speak of certain positive conditions arising in our times (such as the reductions in global poverty or child mortality) as “what we have accomplished,” because he understands that the ambiguity of that subject, “we,” represents both the heights of delusional self-aggrandizement and an all-too-convenient rhetorical evasion exploited by a speaker who is likely, if pushed, to prove unwilling or unable to answer the vital question: Who or what, exactly, is truly responsible for this supposed progress that you are blithely crediting to the empty and comforting sophistical puffery of “we”?

He knows that nothing on this Earth, and certainly nothing human, is everlasting, from which it follows necessarily that all gains and increments of progress are provisional shifts, not absolute changes — and that the practical mechanism of the inevitable “turning around” will be the momentum, or if you will the over-lurching, of those same provisional gains and increments of progress.

He recognizes that comfort is merely one name for the subjective state of those participating in the momentum, and he therefore reflexively chooses the uncomfortable path, not in order to prove something — needing to prove something is a vulgar motive — but simply because his internal calculator estimates that the cost of comfort is too high.

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