Friday, 10 July 2015

bagful of wits or the fox and the hedgehog

Greek poet Archilochus, reflecting on the perils of being too clever, said of the fabled fox that he knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.
I wonder which character society finds more palatable, to be peripatetic and know a hundred means of escape, evasion, succeeding that we can adapt—or try to in the moment—to a given situation or be content, hunkered down with one sure and reliable idea. Reflecting on the ongoing centennial of the Great War and the horrors that followed, ideologies that took root in the scorched pastures of Europe where God and King were beforehand disbanded by terror and revolt and brief revanchment by Napoleon and the brittle empire of the Hapsburgs that couldn’t hold the centre led us down terrible paths that put us off outwitting ourselves—for a generation at least. Maybe ideologues do admit of one core idea driving their agenda but in practise and execution, it’s only maybe a fox disguised as a hedgehog. Presently, I fear we’ve again acquired a taste to be clever and forgotten about the dangers of nationalism and rank hypocrisy in wealth and technologies. We don’t need to dart down those manifold paths—a hundred routes to utopia—another time and hopefully we’ve learned enough from history to restrain and humble ourselves.