Modern Times

The Museum Of Comfort.

(This is an edited version of my original post, “A Visit To Harry’s Place”).

The library at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
A wonderful place for study as well as writing.

Rudolf Steiner spoke of museums as ‘Places of the Dead’, because all that lies within the museum is dead. The world of the dead includes everything that has transpired, that is to say, all that lies in the past. If you have followed my reasoning in other posts, this must include evidence – and any thinking that is subsequently based upon it.

It isn’t that the dead can be brought back to life, after all, blue can never be yellow. The two are as distinct and as qualitatively different as to be chalk and cheese. The one can never be the other. But that doesn’t mean that humanity can’t spend enormous amounts of time trying to bring the dead back to life!

Museums are halls given over to the past, only with a twist. Because modern minds are active in bringing the past to live. We are so clever that we think we know how the ancients thought, bring them back to life as if they were modern people: they were dull and stupid, and life was nasty, brutal and short. Well, it’s nicer to think that way because it makes the concrete brutality of our modern world a little easier to stomach, doesn’t it? Because the reality for Cro-magnon man was very different from the imaginations the modern intellectual have of it.

To us, the life led by a primitive culture would have us screaming to be let out within the hour. But then, as modern intellectuals, we possess a sharp awareness that primitive people lack. Well, such dim awareness allows the person to live in a world where things just happen. It’s a little like the mediaeval stone carver who has never done anything else in his life. How could it be any different? He’s lived in Strasbourg his entire life, knows every alley and house. Not to mention those who live in them. Even the cathedral he’s building grows at such a slow pace that it appears the same every day. After all, his father began building it, and his as yet unborn grandchild will complete it. Thus it is that everything is familiar to him, only this familiarity is what lay around him. There was nothing there to point to anything worth thinking about. Life was a continuum.

Our modern awareness is needle sharp, and like needles, penetrate the cloth of reality to seek things that comfort the modern mind. For the modern person, the security of their thinking is paramount because everything in the world around us is changing and new. The village of our childhood is now a suburb: the fields have been made into a highway, the stream boys fished in is now bubbling with pollution from the local factory where a few of them now work in amongst the machines and the vats of poison.

You bought a new car in a new style, you work in a new office block that looks like nothing else on earth, your new house is a blob on stilts and you bought it because it looks new. Either that, or you can’t afford a car, your work is in a tin monolith painted grey and your flat is on the ninth floor of a monochrome housing block where the paint peels from the ceilings in the hallways. Either way, it’s modern and up-to-date. They are warm, a place where winter is a centrally heated summer and night is a fluorescent-lit day.

But these are all the result of modern people recoiling from nature’s challenges. People learn things in the winter that they cannot learn in the summer; we can learn things in the dark that we cannot learn in the light of day. Extending our comfort zone to make winters warm by mechanical means implies that such truths the winter can teach us will never be learned. Only on the bleak occasion of a power-cut will people learn the reality of a winter night, clad as they are in their summer shorts and tee-shirts.

Seen in this light, a museum is the perfect place for such people: it is safe, in that it is fixed and immovable, nor is it polluted. Well, not with chemicals, anyway. So people flock to this museum because it is safe and they aren’t going to meet anything offensive there. That is to say, challenging. Quite as importantly, many of the things are beautiful, well made – but they are also primitive. The one thing that comforts a modern mind is knowing it can’t be any better. That technology, and the thinking that underpins it, is the crowning pinnacle of achievement and will be the solution to all problems.

How else can it be? Do any of the rare creatures that read these posts have any idea what might be different? Because I will tell you this, I most certainly do. But then, that’s why I’m writing this.

One day, humanity will be forced to accept the truths I have reasoned out for myself; these aren’t concepts one can unveil by looking into computers or by using peer-reviewed evidence. All that – and if you consider how much of it there is, how many people are involved in and busying themselves with this kind of thinking – you will get an idea of how many people will have to meet reality head on. And at a time of its choosing, not theirs. It’s how reality works. As mentioned, it’s called a power cut.

Nobody thought about the connection of the central heating boiler, because nobody knew and nobody asked. Not even the fitter! I’ve worked with enough plumbers to know a good one, and they don’t come cheap. My response isn’t to beat the price down, but to ask if I can pay by instalments.

But then, what price is your life worth? Carbon monoxide poisoning is far from pleasant. All I am saying is be careful. Very careful. Those people who know better than me are those who are unable to discern a good plumber by the way he puts his toolbag down. And there is one thing one can say for certain: you cannot tell the quality of a person’s work from the list of their qualifications stated on their CV. A business that does such things is running itself onto the rocks. And they don’t even know they’re doing it. After all, how else can one employ a person? The rocks lie beneath the surface of the water. Only fools put to sea without a chart.

For them, there can be no error, because the evidence is there to prove that there cannot be any error. A perfect circle, then. Well, that is what the modern mind is all about, isn’t it? The comfort of this kind of certainty!

Yet this certainty is built on not knowing. But how can one know what one cannot know? When one employs a plumber who can’t do his work, how can you know if he’s done a good job? Such people wonder why they develop a stomach ache when they use their heating systems. That is to say, their plumber made a mistake and there’s too much carbon monoxide in the exhaust – which he forgot to connect.

Yet our world comforts itself on such certainties, and don’t ask questions because they want comfort. Or cheapness.

Not the truth, the reality.

Oh, and when challenged have two responses: to walk away, or make an excuse and thus divert the conversation back into their comfort zone. Speak with such a person and see just how long it takes for them to divert the conversation away from reality. It’ll teach you a lot about how large their comfort zone is. Or, if they swiftly return to an excuse, how small.

They can comfort themselves by settling themselves down in the library and read books.

6-11-2015, 2-1-16


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