As a writer, though, this means that he’s placed himself in a somewhat precarious position. As he writes in the book: “I realized, after a while, that anything I have ever written in the past which has even approached being any good at all has been written from some place of desperation. It has been written from the edges: from the dark slope of the mountain, not the warmth of the campfire.”
Kingsnorth’s image of a writer necessarily being apart, watching those around the campfire from the dark slope of the mountain, is an apt metaphor for the distance that we fear language places between us and an authentic life. But Kingsnorth seems not to consider the possibility that to be human is to be both on the mountain and around the fire, at the same time.
The Italian writer Roberto Calasso explains in his book Ka: Stories of the Mind and Gods of India that the Hindu Vedas say the Tree of Knowledge and Tree of Life “look like a single tree.” On two different branches, two birds sit at exactly the same height. One eats a berry while the other watches. Both are aspects of self, and both are necessary, the eating and the watching. As Calasso writes, affirming Kingsnorth’s initial perception while rejecting his conclusions, “Consciousness slowly strangles life. But life exists—or is perceived to exist—only to the extent that it allows the parasite of consciousness to grow upon it.” One is reminded here of how William Burroughs called language the “word virus.” But what traditional and religious wisdom tells us is that the virus must necessarily be kept in harmony with our animal selves in order for us to spiritually flourish.
Pierre senses the meaning of things, though he cannot explain it to others. In the close of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921), which was heavily influenced by Tolstoy, the great philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein explains why that sense cannot be communicated:
6.251. The solution of the problem of life is seen in the vanishing of the problem. (Is this not why those who have found after a long period of doubt that the sense of life became clear to them have been unable to say what constituted that sense?)
6.522. There are, indeed, things that cannot be put into words. They make themselves manifest.
It is not some fact about the world that has changed for Pierre, but his sense of the world as a whole. With that new sense, Pierre’s questions are not answered but simply disappear. He has found faith—“not faith in any sort of rule, or words, or ideas” but in a God perpetually present in the very processes of life. The real sense of the Gospel words Andrei cites—“they sow not, neither do they reap”—is that God is to be found not in remote aims but in the immediate present always before one’s eyes. Pierre has learned, “not by words or reasoning, but by direct feeling, what his nurse had told him long ago: that God is here and everywhere.” Like Pierre, Tolstoy cannot answer the questions of life in words, but instead shows us from within the experience of discovering faith.
Reading War and Peace is an experience unlike that of reading any other book, except, I suppose, Anna Karenina. We move from amazement at the smallest movements of consciousness to a grand vision of life in all its endless complexity and variety. Perhaps we become convinced of this vision because we have always tacitly and unconsciously known it. Here is Tolstoyan wisdom: real insight lies not in some abstract system, which necessarily oversimplifies, but in a faith always within our grasp. The truths we seek are so difficult to discern precisely because they are hidden in plain view.
Titus & Pete Spiliakos discuss Harold Ramis's attack on institutional authority in his 80s comedies: Caddyshack, Back To School, & Ghostbusters. Pete calls Ramis a prophet of Trump: A comic writer whose reprehensible protagonists nevertheless triumph over hypocritical & complacent elites.
"For Robinson, grace is free for all, found everywhere, and in everything. This grace sounds wonderful, but it ignores the problem of evil. I know that Robinson prefers to highlight the goodness in creation and is frustrated by dark writers who she considers misanthropic. However, writers who acknowledge darkness and evil represent reality as it is, not how we wish it to be. A world that glimmers and shines, as it does in Robinson’s novel, paints over the ugly, but by doing so, marginalizes injustice.
A counter to Robinson would be the Catholic writer, Flannery O’Connor. If there is any writer that Robinson abhors, it would be O’Connor. And, rightly so, given Robinson’s dissenting theology. In O’Connor’s fiction, evil is unavoidable and often stares back at you from the mirror. Grace costs, in an O’Connor story. As she writes in a letter, “It’s true that grace is the free gift of God but in order to put yourself in the way of being receptive to it, you have to practice self-denial.” To me, O’Connor aligns more with scriptural revelation."
"Changes in technology brought changes in our psycho-social environment that the imagineers did not see coming, precipitating today’s true crisis. The televisually expert class grandly imagined the Internet as the advance that, powered by the right dreams, would soon complete or perfect their global projects. At least at the beginning, they saw correctly that the difference between the old days of a handful of television stations and the dawning day of ubiquitous social media was one of degree, not of kind. Televisual broadcast media was at last truly democratized, not only reaching the masses as television did but giving each person a voice. Suddenly, anyone could be his or her own channel. In fact, anyone could be multiple channels, and audiences, all at once. Technology, democracy, liberalism, and globalism were all expected to converge.
That, of course, is not what happened. Modern technology has indeed consummated the televisual era, but with results quite opposite those the imagineers expected. Instead, a curious form of Hobbes’s war of all against all was unleashed. Online, each “netizen” produced more and more opinions, fantasies, dreams, interpretations, and criticism. Marshall McLuhan forecast the situation in his concept of the “global village” — not a boundaryless and harmonious Eden sought by the imaginative social engineers of the world elite, but rather a hot, crowded, fragmented, and fractious realm, one much like the “world” that social media, to the shock of the elite, became.
Pushing televisual life to its democratic extreme did not perfect the authority of the televisual elite — it shook it, like nothing before. The elite, unwilling to accept blame and responsibility for letting its imagination run away with it, has sought to wash its hands of the problem instead, blaming social media and its masters by portraying them as devils of the “digital” era using new technology to exploit us, not as the ultra-televisual phenomena they are. Roger McNamee, an early investor in Google and Facebook, now scorches the companies’ products as “a menace to public health and to democracy” that employ “aggressive brain hacking,” a term taken from repentant Google product designer Tristan Harris."
Osgerby said that the office of the future is more a space of collaboration, so its furniture needs to be more casual.
"The office now and in the future will only be a place where people come together, a meeting place," he said. "People now need to move around and sit down and come together, to have moments of intimacy and sociability."
Barber added: "This is why we say that the desk is dead, and not the office is dead."
“Today’s society is no longer Foucault’s disciplinary world of hospitals, madhouses, prisons, barracks, and factories. It has long been replaced by another regime, namely a society of fitness studios, office towers, banks, airports, shopping malls, and genetic laboratories. Twenty-first-century society is no longer a disciplinary society, but rather an achievement society [Leistungsgesellschaft]. Also, its inhabitants are no longer “obedience-subjects” but “achievement-subjects.” They are entrepreneurs of themselves.”
― Byung-Chul Han, The Burnout Society