Sunday, October 20, 2013

Birth of Modernity ?

Modernity was born the moment most of the educated West replaced a belief in the Theory of the Sublime with a belief in the Theory of the Germ , ie an event that occurred in the broadly defined '1880s'.

The Theory of the Sublime explains why humans fear - and should fear - only the awesomely big : God, the devil, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, lions, tigers, et al.

But after the advent of Darwin, Lyell, steam power, high explosives and the Higher Criticism, who could fear any of these ?

Still, when things go wrong - as they often do - who then to blame ?

Can't blame ourselves, could we ?

Conveniently, a bizarre theory emerged from Pasteur in France about the same time, suggesting that an invisible Fifth Column of tiny, weak creatures, most even incapable of basic movement , could nevertheless fell the biggest and smartest of beings with ease.

Think of Germs being a sort of Anti-Sublimity and you're on the right track.

No longer were our enemies big, external and highly visible, (first declaring war forthrightly, then pouring over the border to line up en masse in their bright red uniforms on a sunny daytime battlefield).

Instead germs , like biological franc-tireurs, shot their toxin bullets, - in our backs - at night, out of uniform, from behind fences.

Bacteria are nothing but tiny, weak, poor beings you sentimentalists say ?

No, no, a thousand times no !

They are unsporting guerillas and biological bomb-throwing anarchist terrorists.

War without mercy then upon our minorities of the weak and the small - for they are humanity's one true remaining enemy .....

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