Things I Almost Know

On conservation of energy.— In a millennium, nothing I own today will exist in a recognizable way. In ten millennia, nothing anyone owns today will so exist. In a hundred millennia, today’s existence itself, which is to say our world, will no longer be present in any remotely identifiable form. In a thousand millennia, we will all be a wisp of a rumor; in ten thousand, a rumor of a wisp. In a hundred thousand millennia, two souls like ours, perhaps even our two souls, may be here again, under a starry sky on a quiet night, keeping watch or tending a flock, having a conversation much like this one, as though for the first time, and as oblivious to our today selves as our today selves are to the world beyond our comfortingly reductionist, simplifying (aka delusional) science.

What is irony?— There are those, the voice of the majority in all times and places, who see a fundamental human imperfection or shortcoming as a call to arms and a motive for change. There are others, always in the minority, who see the same problem as an intractable truth to keep in mind when dealing with the world. The first type hate the second type. The second type must therefore be permanently wary of the first, and determined to avoid or minimize direct confrontation with them. Irony is the form this wariness takes in the realm of civilized discourse — a realm, insofar as it is to remain civilized, that, both historically and necessarily, is largely defined by the ironists themselves. That is to say, a world without irony is by definition uncivilized, or if you will pre-civilized. “Tribalism,” as some of us are using that word with increasing frequency and widening applicability today, may properly be understood as one name for the universalized condition of this lack of, or disdain for, irony. So little holds a world together.

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