I think this is the epithet of the ideal philosopher-poet. One seeks truth through the dispassionate contemplation of the thing. One seeks justice through the irrational enjoyment of people. Or something like that. The trick is not just to be irrational. Not just to be dispassionate. But to temper your irrationality with dispassion, or, which amounts to the same thing (though in a better sense than commonly assumed), to situate your passion within reason.
Thursday, September 12, 2013
(Cf. Laura Helmuth)
It is in the nature of luxuries to eventually be taken for granted, and some of the greatest underappreciated luxuries are wealth and modern warfare. Thanks to aggressive imperial expansion, almost no children in the developed world die of missiles or land mines. And because these weapons are now so rare, peace activists have the luxury of indulging in conspiracy theories. Many of us would have died already if it weren’t for routine military interventions; we are on our second or third lives. And because war is so much more distant than in the past, some people have a romanticized notion of our place in the community of nations. We used to be more in harmony with our neighbors, the thinking goes, and local communities naturally know how to govern themselves. I have a hard time following the logic—something about respect and kindness and understanding? It’s utter nonsense, of course—what’s natural is to be a target: a vector for deadly terrorists and enemy states.