AuthorTopic: The window of history where facts were known, but wrong decisions were made.  (Read 1616 times)

Offline UnhingedBecauseLucid

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What are the odds that such a passage from such a book come to my attention, me, the jaded iconoclast, the "Doomer" ?
It's a used 'pocket size' soft cover I got at my local library liquidation sale for one lousy Canadian dollar. It's a 1970 print of a 1953 edition of the translated in french novel of Aldous Huxley: Point Counterpoint.
I went in the library to escape a hot and disgustingly humid summer day, baited by hand made advertising boards hung outside the building. Shuffling through all the books, it's the only one that could potentially have been of interest to me, since I had fond memories of Huxley's 'Brave New Word' I read in college.
A couple of years went by and I've never gotten around to reading it, until summer of 2018 where I've gotten half way through it.
I'm bringing it up in this post first and foremost because the excerpt I present her, I consider to be a very flavorful little nugget of history, despite being written as fiction. Secondly, I'm bringing it up in the hope it can be shared as widely as possible in the collapse blogosphere, possibly as a post. To be honest, not so much because it would tickle my fancy (though it might a little) but mostly because I think it gives an invaluable perspective in and of itself to the timeline of the history of thought on matters of ... the finite nature of our world. Truth be told, I am really curious of the reactions it could spark if diffused to a sufficient extent.

The Context:
The setting of this particular moment in the plot is a 'Soirée Mondaine', a 'diner party' given by an 'old money' family at the beginning of 20th century England (presumably after WW1 if I remember correctly). It's attended by the usual suspect: Aristocrats, politicians, generals, prominent artists (painter, writers), literary publisher, rich industrialist, you get the gist of it...

Three characters in this excerpt:
Lord Edwards: an 'old money' patriarch on whose estate the party is happening. His wife's initiative. He's an old man devoting his whole time to science, ... has a lab upstairs the mansion\manor where the 'soirée' is taking place.
Illidge: His lab assistant -- a touch of cynicism and resentment from the lower classes...
Webley: The clueless politician at this very tumultuous time in history.

I'd like to remind you all that this is unfortunately a RE-TRANSLATION back to English, of a french translation of the original novel. I suspect that initial translation is not a prime quality one, so I'd like to take this occasion to ask for leniency, and perhaps if I can be allowed to be pompous enough; should one of you anglophones in the audience have the easy capacity to get your hands on an English version of the book at your local library, I'd be very curious to see this passage diffused in its authentic form throughout 'our subset' of the blogosphere ;-)
So without further blabbering, here's the excerpt: 

Quote
Hassled, like a bear in his den tormented by dogs, Lord Edwards vacillated heavily from one side to the other, pivoting his body from the waste up.
-- But I’m not interested in pol… -- He was too agitated to finish the word.
-- However little politics interests you, Webley pressed on in a persuasive tone, surely you must be interested in your fortune, in your standing, in your family’s future. Don’t forget all these things would crumble in the general destruction.
-- Yes,but… No… --Lord Edwards was getting desperate. -- I have no interests in money.
One day, years ago, the notary whom was tasked with the whole of his wealth management came unannounced despite the express interdiction of Lord Edwards to be disturbed by such matters, to consult with him regarding some investments funds. Some eighty thousand pounds were made available. Lord Edwards was thus abruptly pulled out of his equations relating to the statics of living beings. The second he realized the frivolous motivations for this interruption, the ordinarily calm and mild mannered old man entered a state of furious rage rendering him unrecognizable. Mr. Figgis, whose voice was strong and full of confidence, had had the habit in past audiences to simply do as he please. Lord Edwards’ fury startled and shell-shocked him. It was as if, in his rage, the old man had been, by atavism, relocated in feudal time, as if he’d remembered that he was a Tantamount talking to a mercenary servant. He had given orders; and they were infringed; without valid motives, his intimacy was violated. Unacceptable. Should such a thing ever happen again, he would entrust another notary with the management of his personal affairs. On this, Mr. Figgis was left with an unceremonious : “Now good day sir”.
-- I have no interest in money, he reiterated.
Illidge, who just came into proximity, waiting for an occasion to speak with the old man, heard this last remark and burst into interior laughter. “Those rich bastards, they really are all the same !” he thought to himself. 
-- But if not for you, insisted Webley, may it at least be for civilization, for progress !
Lord Edwards jolted on these words. He had touched a nerve here, triggering the sudden release of an influx of energy.
--Progress ! he said echoing his interlocutor, in a lame and contemptible tone, and then taking another one exuding absolute certitude. -- Progress ! You politicians always talk about it … As if it were to last… indefinitely… Always more cars, more kids,  more food, more marketing, more money, more of everything, -- for ever… You should take a few classes in my field, -- physical biology. Progress, really !... What do you intend to do about, for example,  phosphorus ?
The question had tint of a personal accusation.
-- But this is entirely beside the point, Webley said, impatiently.
-- On the contrary, replied Lord Edwards, the point lies entirely therein. -- His voice from then on became louder and severe. He was speaking with much greater coherence than usual. Phosphorus had made him a different man; he held very strong opinions on phosphorus, so from then on, he became very assertive. The tormented bear became the tormentor. -- With your intensive agriculture, you simply deprive the soil of its phosphorus. More than half a percent per year you drain so doing. It completely disappears from circulation. And that way of wasting hundreds of thousands of tons of phosphoric anhydride in the sewers ! Calmly evacuating it in the ocean ! And that’s what you call progress !... Your modern systems of all-straight-to-the-sewers ! -- You should be worrying about how to put back where it came from. To return it back to the soil. -- Pointing and waving his finger in admonishment, Lord Edwards frowned. -- Back to the soil, I tell you.
-- But all this doesn’t concern me, Webley protested..
-- Well it should, sharply retorted Lord Edwards. There lies the problem. You politicians don’t even talk about important matters. You talk of progress, of suffrage, and of bolshevism and each and every year you let a million ton of phosphoric anhydride wash to the sea. That’s idiotic, that’s criminal, it’s… fiddling while Rome is burning to the ground. -- As he watched Webley’s mouth open to talk, he quickly interrupted to prevent what would surely be an objection. -- You probably think you can compensate those loss with phosphorus rocks, but what will you do when the deposits are depleted ? -- Darting his Everard’s plastron with his finger. -- Then what ? Barely 200 years and it will be over. You’re imagining we are progressing because we are eating our capital. Phosphates, coal, petroleum, nitrogen, -- waste it all ! There’s your policy !... And in the meantime, you’re preoccupied with scaring us with talks of revolution !
-- But for God’s sake said Webley, half amused half angered, your phosphorus can wait. The other danger is imminent. You really wish to see a political and social revolution ?
-- Would it halt population growth and production asked Lord Edwards.
-- Of course.
-- Then certainly, I’d wish to see a revolution. The elder held point of views on the geological scale and thus wasn’t scared of logical conclusions. -- Yes, certainly.-- Illidge could barely refrain from bursting into laughter.
-- My God, if that’s your opinion… started Webley, only to be interrupted by Lord Edwards.
-- The only result of your progress, is that in a few generations, there will be a real revolution, -- a natural, cosmic revolution. You are in the process of destroying the equilibrium. Ultimately, nature will re-establish it. And that progress will make you feel quite uneasy. Your fall will be as fast as your ascension… Even more so in fact, because you will be bankrupted, you will have wasted your capital. It takes a certain time for a man to accumulate all the resources to make him rich. But once all is acquired, it doesn’t take long for him to starve to death.
Webley shrugged. “The old man is crazy” he thought to himself, and then at loud :
-- Parallel straight lines never intersect Lord Edwards. So on this I’ll take my leave and wish you a good evening.
A minute later the old man and his assistant were taking the stairs back to where they came from, back to the parallel world of their laboratory.
 
[/i]

---------------
On a final though note, I'd like to point out an interesting fact. As I was reading this passage for the first time in the car with my old folks in route to visit my sister 150 km from here, I suddenly became agitated. I looked at the date of publishing, as mentioned, the first print of that translation  was in 1953. As soon as I got home I looked up the date of the original novel. It turns out, it was the novel written right before Huxley's famous 1932 'Brave New World'.
Point Counterpoint was written in 1928.

Food for thought IMHO.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2019, 05:29:04 AM by UnhingedBecauseLucid »
Man can do what he will, but he cannot will what he wills.
­~ A. Schopenhauer

Offline azozeo

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interesting read...  apropos  :icon_mrgreen:
I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world.
You don’t know what it is but its there, like a splinter in your mind

Offline Surly1

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Really interesting find.

Quote
You’re imagining we are progressing because we are eating our capital. Phosphates, coal, petroleum, nitrogen, -- waste it all ! There’s your policy ...

Very prescient. We're all Lord Edwardses, eating our seed corn, and will until it runs out, then will eat one another.
“The old world is dying, and the New World struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters.”

Offline AJ

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Very interesting find. I always liked Huxley. Because I liked him in high school years later I also read his last novel, Island. Again a dark message.
The passage you excerpted was particularly insightful because as you point out it was written in 1928. Huxley was probably wrong though in that we have screwed it up in 100 years and won't make it to 2128.
Thanks for the post.
AJ
Nullis in Verba

Offline UnhingedBecauseLucid

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interesting read...  apropos  :icon_mrgreen:

Quote
Really interesting find.

:) Thanks, but to be clear, you should consider yourselves warned that from then on, if someone ever tries the "we didn't know better at the time" argument with me, I might become a little ... agitated ... like a "tormented bear ".  :exp-angry: :evil4: :exp-wink:

I'll politely concede the imperfect diffusion of that knowledge, and the fact that Huxley himself was the son of a somewhat prominent, well-off family. But no.
The hubris of "nuclear energy too cheap to meter aside", the 'Precautionary Principle'  wasn't observed.
The diffusion of knowledge was halted, sabotaged, but not meaningfully defended.

... and here we are today.

 :ernaehrung004:
Man can do what he will, but he cannot will what he wills.
­~ A. Schopenhauer

Offline UnhingedBecauseLucid

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Huxley was probably wrong though in that we have screwed it up in 100 years and won't make it to 2128.

Our 'progress' towards minimally mitigated collapse is indeed, way faster than his prediction.
No arguments from me there.
Our elites are over-achievers after all ...

 :D
Man can do what he will, but he cannot will what he wills.
­~ A. Schopenhauer

Offline RE

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you should consider yourselves warned that from then on, if someone ever tries the "we didn't know better at the time" argument with me, I might become a little ... agitated ... like a "tormented bear ".

Agitation is the normal state for Diners.

RE
Save As Many As You Can

Offline UnhingedBecauseLucid

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 :) Good morning RE
  :coffee:

Quote
Agitation is the normal state for Diners.

Few. That's a relief ...
 :P
Man can do what he will, but he cannot will what he wills.
­~ A. Schopenhauer

Offline K-Dog

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What are the odds that such a passage from such a book come to my attention, me, the jaded iconoclast, the "Doomer" ?
It's a used 'pocket size' soft cover I got at my local library liquidation sale for one lousy canadian dollar. It's a 1970 print of a 1953 edition of the translated in french novel of Aldous Huxley: Point Counterpoint.
I went in the library to escape a hot and disgustingly humid summer day, baited by hand made advertising boards hung outside the building. Shuffling through all the books, it's the only one that could potentially have been of interest to me, since I had fond memories of Huxley's 'Brave New Word' I read in college.
A couple of years went by and I've never gotten around to reading it, until summer of 2018 where I've gotten half way through it.
I'm bringing it up in this post first and foremost because the excerpt I present her, I consider to be a very flavorful little nugget of history, despite being written as fiction. Secondly, I bringing it up in the hope it can be shared as widely as possible in the collapse blogosphere, possibly as a post. To be honest, not so much because it would tickle my fancy (though it might a little) but mostly because I think it gives an invaluable perspective in and of itself to the timeline of the history of thought on matters of ... the finite nature of our world. Truth be told, I am really curious of the reactions it could spark if diffused to a sufficient extent.

The Context:
The setting of this particular moment in the plot is a 'Soirée Mondaine', a 'diner party' given by an 'old money' family at the beginning of 20th century England (presumably after WW1 if I remember correctly). It's attended by the usual suspect: Aristocrats, politicians, generals, prominent artists (painter, writers), literary publisher, rich industrialist, you get the gist of it...

Three characters in this excerpt:
Lord Edwards: an 'old money' patriarch on whose estate the party is happening. His wife's initiative. He's an old man devoting his whole time to science, ... has a lab upstairs the mansion\manor where the 'soirée' is taking place.
Illidge: His lab assistant -- a touch of cynism and resentment from the lower classes...
Webley: The clueless politician at this very tumultuous time in history.

I'd like to remind you all that this is unfortunately a RE-TRANSLATION back to English, of a french translation of the original novel. I suspect that initial translation is not a prime quality one, so I'd like to take this occasion to ask for leniency, and perhaps if I can be allowed to be pompous enough; should one of you anglophones in the audience have the easy capacity to get your hands on an English version of the book at your local library, I'd be very curious to see this passage diffused in its authentic form throughout 'our subset' of the blogosphere ;-)
So without further blabbering, here's the excerpt: 

Quote
Hassled, like a bear in his den tormented by dogs, Lord Edwards vacillated heavily form one side to the other, pivoting his body from the waste up.
-- But I’m not interested in pol… -- He was too agitated to finish the word.
-- However little politics interests you, Webley pressed on in a persuasive tone, surely you must be interested in your fortune, in your standing, in your family’s future. Don’t forget all these things would crumble in the general destruction.
-- Yes,but… No… --Lord Edwards was getting desperate. -- I have no interests in money.
One day, years ago, the notary whom was tasked with the whole of his wealth management came unannounced despite the express interdiction of Lord Edwards to be disturbed by such matters, to consult with him regarding some investments funds. Some eighty thousand pounds were made available. Lord Edwards was thus abruptly pulled out of his equations relating to the statics of living beings. The second he realized the frivolous motivations for this interruption, the ordinarily calm and mild mannered old man entered a state of furious rage rendering him unrecognizable. Mr. Figgis, whose voice was strong and full of confidence, had had the habit in past audiences to simply do as he please. Lord Edwards’ fury startled and shell-shocked him. It was as if, in his rage, the old man had been, by atavism, relocated in feudal time, as if he’d remembered that he was a Tantamount talking to a mercenary servant. He had given orders; and they were infringed; without valid motives, his intimacy was violated. Unacceptable. Should such a thing ever happen again, he would entrust another notary with the management of his personal affairs. On this, Mr. Figgis was left with an unceremonious : “Now good day sir”.
-- I have no interest in money, he reiterated.
Illidge, who just came into proximity, waiting for an occasion to speak with the old man, heard this last remark and burst into interior laughter. “Those rich bastards, they really are all the same !” he thought to himself. 
-- But if not for you, insisted Webley, may it at least be for civilization, for progress !
Lord Edwards jolted on these words. He had touched a nerve here, triggering the sudden release of an influx of energy.
--Progress ! he said echoing his interlocutor, in a lame and contemptible tone, and then taking another one exuding absolute certitude. -- Progress ! You politicians always talk about it … As if it were to last… indefinitely… Always more cars, more kids,  more food, more marketing, more money, more of everything, -- for ever… You should take a few classes in my field, -- physical biology. Progress, really !... What do you intend to do about, for example,  phosphorus ?
The question had tint of a personal accusation.
-- But this is entirely beside the point, Webley said, impatiently.
-- On the contrary, replied Lord Edwards, the point lies entirely therein. -- His voice from then on became louder and severe. He was speaking with much greater coherence than usual. Phosphorus had made him a different man; he held very strong opinions on phosphorus, so from then on, he became very assertive. The tormented bear became the tormentor. -- With your intensive agriculture, you simply deprive the soil of its phosphorus. More than half a percent per year you drain so doing. It completely disappears from circulation. And that way of wasting hundreds of thousands of tons of phosphoric anhydride in the sewers ! Calmly evacuating it in the ocean ! And that’s what you call progress !... Your modern systems of all-straight-to-the-sewers ! -- You should be worrying about how to put back where it came from. To return it back to the soil. -- Pointing and waving his finger in admonishment, Lord Edwards frowned. -- Back to the soil, I tell you.
-- But all this doesn’t concern me, Webley protested..
-- Well it should, sharply retorted Lord Edwards. There lies the problem. You politicians don’t even talk about important matters. You talk of progress, of suffrage, and of bolshevism and each and every year you let a million ton of phosphoric anhydride wash to the sea. That’s idiotic, that’s criminel, it’s… fiddling while Rome is burning to the ground. -- As he watched Webley’s mouth open to talk, he quickly interrupted to prevent what would surely be an objection. -- You probably think you can compensate those loss with phosphorus rocks, but what will you do when the deposits are depleted ? -- Darting his Everard’s plastron with his finger. -- Then what ? Barely 200 years and it will be over. You’re imagining we are progressing because we are eating our capital. Phosphates, coal, petroleum, nitrogen, -- waste it all ! There’s your policy !... And in the meantime, you’re preoccupied with scaring us with talks of revolution !
-- But for God’s sake said Webley, half amused half angered, your phosphorus can wait. The other danger is imminent. You really wish to see a political and social revolution ?
-- Would it halt population growth and production asked Lord Edwards.
-- Of course.
-- Then certainly, I’d wish to see a revolution. The elder held point of views on the geological scale and thus wasn’t scared of logical conclusions. -- Yes, certainly.-- Illidge could barely refrain from bursting in laughter.
-- My God, if that’s your opinion… started Webley, only to be interrupted by Lord Edwards.
-- The only result of your progress, is that in a few generations, there will be a real revolution, -- a natural, cosmic revolution. You are in the process of destroying the equilibrium. Ultimately, nature will re-establish it. And that progress will make you feel quite uneasy. Your fall will be as fast as your ascension… Even more so in fact, because you will be bankrupted, you will have wasted your capital. It takes a certain time for a man to accumulate all the resources to make him rich. But once all is acquired, it doesn’t take long to starve to death.
Webley shrugged. “The old man is crazy” he thought to himself, and then at loud :
-- Parallel straight lines never intersect Lord Edwards. So on this I’ll take my leave and wish you a good evening.
A minute later the old man and his assistant were taking the stairs back to where they came from, back to the parallel world of their laboratory.
 
[/i]

---------------
On a final though note, I'd like to point out an interesting fact. As I was reading this passage for the first time in the car with my old folks in route to visit my sister 150 km from here, I suddenly became agitated. I looked at the date of publishing, as mentioned, the first print of that translation  was in 1953. As soon as I got home I looked up the date of the original novel. It turns out, it was the novel written right before Huxley's famous 1932 'Brave New World'.
Point Counterpoint was written in 1928.

Food for thought IMHO.


Quote
We think we know who we are and what we ought to do about it, and yet our thought is conditioned and determined by the nature of our immediate experience as psychophysical organisms on this particular planet. Thought, in other words, is Life's fool. Thought is the slave of Life, and Life obviously is Time's fool inasmuch as it is changing from instant to instant, changing the outside and the inner world so that we never remain the same two instants together.
<-  A. Huxley

And somebody took my phosphorus!
Under ideal conditions of temperature and pressure the organism will grow without limit.

Offline UnhingedBecauseLucid

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We think we know who we are and what we ought to do about it, and yet our thought is conditioned and determined by the nature of our immediate experience as psychophysical organisms on this particular planet. Thought, in other words, is Life's fool. Thought is the slave of Life, and Life obviously is Time's fool inasmuch as it is changing from instant to instant, changing the outside and the inner world so that we never remain the same two instants together.
<-  A. Huxley

Yeah... I guess we are about the learn this the hard way ... or not at all.  :icon_scratch:

Quote
And somebody took my phosphorus!

That's ok ... you can use this  :ernaehrung004: in the meantime !
Man can do what he will, but he cannot will what he wills.
­~ A. Schopenhauer

Offline Surly1

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you should consider yourselves warned that from then on, if someone ever tries the "we didn't know better at the time" argument with me, I might become a little ... agitated ... like a "tormented bear ".

Agitation is the normal state for Diners.

RE

Fuckin' A.
“The old world is dying, and the New World struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters.”

Offline Eddie

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Books that contain a lot of harsh truth don't tend to do well, while fantasies about any number of absolutely impossible scenarios sell like hotcakes.

This is the result of human nature.

Nowadays, of course, books are artifacts of a dying culture, and most readers are people who live their lives in their own heads, anyway.

We have a new emerging culture that is similar, and you can even see it playing out among doomers and preppers. That is.......a whole new group of people who live their lives vicariously watching utube videos made by other people who actually DO things, while they themselves get through life plugged into whatever suck-ass place in the matrix they have drifted into.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline AJ

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while fantasies about any number of absolutely impossible scenarios sell like hotcakes.

I think recent movies take the whole "suspend disbelief" to a new level. Most don't have an empirical reasoning (redundant) brain enough to suspend disbelief they take it in as possible realities. Not many movies or fiction books interest me.

As to doomers and preppers and youtube...
I take exception to that. Maybe the majority of doomers and preppers are watching gun and tactical videos, I for one waste my time on gardening, animal husbandry and construction videos (when I'm not out there doing it - which is momentarily after this lunch break ;D).
AJ
Nullis in Verba

Offline Eddie

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while fantasies about any number of absolutely impossible scenarios sell like hotcakes.

I think recent movies take the whole "suspend disbelief" to a new level. Most don't have an empirical reasoning (redundant) brain enough to suspend disbelief they take it in as possible realities. Not many movies or fiction books interest me.

As to doomers and preppers and youtube...
I take exception to that. Maybe the majority of doomers and preppers are watching gun and tactical videos, I for one waste my time on gardening, animal husbandry and construction videos (when I'm not out there doing it - which is momentarily after this lunch break ;D).
AJ

The people I'm talking about are mostly doing zilch. And I didn't have you in mind, btw. Doers know who they are, and there are quite a few. But there are many more of the other variety.

And what I'm talking about isn't actually limited to do-nothings who who watch prepping videos. There are people who live vicariously imagining they are the people striking out on world travels ,taking fabulous vacations to wonderful destinations, or that they are the person singing in a music video.

There is a giant group of people who watch cooking videos on utubes, but never cook a damn thing.

Reality bites, for a lot of people, and fantasy is so much easier than getting off the couch.

What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline UnhingedBecauseLucid

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Books that contain a lot of harsh truth don't tend to do well, while fantasies about any number of absolutely impossible scenarios sell like hotcakes.

This is the result of human nature.

I agree there's a sizable portion of humanity that can't really handle harsh truths.
What I do wonder from time to time though is, how much of the diffusion of those 'heavy duty' truths were in fact torpedoed by 'rationalizing' "elites" ; I'm sure their motives were pure ... [cough] ... but how would history have unfolded had a certain number of these key facts been diffused unimpeded.

As for vicarious Youtubing, I would never do that, as I'm a professional content filterer !
It's a lot of work, you wouldn't believe the ratio of dumb\vile shit to authentic gems there is out there !  ;D
Man can do what he will, but he cannot will what he wills.
­~ A. Schopenhauer

 

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