Monday, August 22, 2005

What experiences do people have...?

First off, here is Camille Paglia talking about a book she has edited which presents and examines 43 of the world’s most enduring poems. But true to form, she isn’t actually talking about the book but flowing over questions like these:

...people who are interested in writing in this period of media and the web and so on, they find it very sustaining to go to a place to meet other people who are similarly interested in it. That’s the upside but the downside is that to be a good writer you can’t just study writing. You have to live, OK? That’s the problem. The best writers have drawn from actual experience, have had some experience. What experiences do people have any more?

Most people I have talked to over the years have assumed that to ‘have an Experience,’ travel is a prerequisite. I don’t believe so but I do believe that the sense of being open-eyed and open-minded in the strongest and most immediate sense is what is needed, and travel happens to impose that feeling almost automatically.

The other day, I was dragging my way through a tangle of brambles by an old canal in a forest near my home. As I emerged by a wooden bridge and an expansive meadow, I suddenly had a small quiet rush of impressions and memories. Things which had been alive in my life when I had been here before asserted themselves. It wasn’t just the past remembered: other things in my life were meshing together now.

Then of course there are the definite, pointable-at experiences which take place as occasions: other people were there; perhaps you took photographs. But I really just wanted to link to Paglia’s words (which deal with the arts in general as a collective way of thinking and living, and which has sadly receded) in case you were interested.

Next up, another question that, unsurprisingly, continues to baffle us. I say unsurprisingly, because humans generally haven’t been brilliant at finding out about tiny complexities in systems which they have been studying in depth for only around 100 years. The question is: what makes people gay? Nature or nurture? Genes or hormones in the womb? Or none? Or all? Read the excellent article. Then, ask yourself: why does it matter whether or not you are born gay or straight?

The Family Research Council, a conservative Christian think tank in Washington, D.C., argues in its book Getting It Straight that finding people are born gay “would advance the idea that sexual orientation is an innate characteristic, like race; that homosexuals, like African-Americans, should be legally protected against ‘discrimination;’ and that disapproval of homosexuality should be as socially stigmatized as racism. However, it is not true.”
Those last pathetic words from the Family Research Council, of course, and not the writer of the wider article! Finally, did God create the world and everything in it in seven days? Or is God a fiction, evolution a certainty, and the new ‘theory’ of ‘Intelligent Design’ anything but a theory and simply the latest appearance of a desperate anti-secular charlatanism? The linked article is quite long which makes me think it could expire sometime, but it’s excellent so if you want a copy, tell me. That’s all for now.

tags: [] [] [] [] [] [] [evolution] []

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