Who’s ever had 95 good theses all at once?

A man with one new idea can start a creed, a cult, an ideology. A man with a hundred, a thousand, starts nothing. He might perhaps awake a dormant mind, but if he does the triumph will simultaneously mark the limit of his own influence, for this is the opposite of conversion, the opposite of creating a following.

One says, “I believe this, this and this to be true,” and always with a certain dishonesty. The will to overcome with one’s beliefs lies at the root of all such talk.

What happens when the simplicity of one’s goals and the complexity of the means adopted to achieve them becomes too great? Is it too much to kill the dragon to spend a night with the maiden? To write an encyclopedia in order to obtain a mention in one?

In 4th grade the flower first introduced me to the circularity of existence. The color, the shape, its efficient decadence, all to lure the bee and create another flower. Must there not be more? The attempt to impart meaning through evolutionary reasoning failed entirely for me. It is no reason for something to exist to extend itself. If anything, two copies needs even more justification than one. And for a species, perhaps an infinite. A flower may be beautiful, but in responding so and planting more are we not not simply made tools in this futile enterprise? This was no more effective in resolving an abstruse subject in my mind than when I was five and asked the Catholic parents of a friend of mine who had gotten chicken pox why this seemed to happen to us all at that age (I hadn’t yet heard of chicken pox parties). “Because God is testing us,” said the mother. “Yes, but why do we get chicken pox?”

Behavioral scientists like to perform experiments like giving chimpanzees and ravens a little stick or some blades of grass and making them try to fish an apple out of a bucket or pull a lure off a clothesline. It’s supposed to show their tool-making and problem-solving to be quite high for animals but still considerably subhuman. But I wonder how well the people you see hanging around outside 7-11 or Wal-Mart would do with a little stick and a few blades of grass. Without the accumulated collective knowledge that resides in the more advanced tools that let us avoid such predicaments in general. And how would they do if they had never heard tell of any previous possibly relevant situation? I don’t deny that a real cognitive gap between the species seems to exist, but I wonder how much the facility of language magnifies it to the point of blinding us to its real magnitude, such that in accomplishing the little tasks of daily life we like to see ourselves as capable individual problem-solvers when in fact a horde, an army, the collected mass of past humanity provides a precedent, a mode of operations for almost all of them.

5 Responses to “Who’s ever had 95 good theses all at once?”

  1. Helen Says:

    How are you doing ? It has been one year ,have you got it over ?

  2. Curt Says:

    I’m doing alright, how about you? I don’t know what you mean exactly by have I got it over, but I have left China and come back to America, I’m living in Boston now and going to grad. school at Harvard. I’m still learning Chinese, I have to learn about 120 new words every week!

  3. helen Says:

    It has been one year since we broke up as friends ,and recently i often reminded of you because we were good friends and often hanged out a lot at this time of last year . No matter how many unhappy things or misunderstandings between us , it is all over . I think you also let it go . Anyhow , the good memories we should keep . Today when I passed by the widdows on the bridge then I remembered the scean when we were talking ,talking what I forgot ! And this is the only way I can connect with you . I hope you send me a email so I can get your email adress, I want to keep in touch with you . I am doing alraght too, and busy with my language study .I have chosen Japanese as my second foreign language and learned almost for one year . But I am more interested in Learning Korean because I have a good foudation and make progress more quickly . I will attend the tour guide examantion in Dec and meanwhile prepare for the Secondary Korean Test , I am planning to do some job connected with the South Korean , perhaps as a tour guide at a short term goal . How is your days in Harvard , Oh forget to Congratulate you . Time flies ! The world is amazing , we can still talk to each other .

  4. Curt Says:

    Yes, it’s true, a lot has happened this past year, and I’m glad to have known you, even if the last time we talked wasn’t on the best of terms. We had some misunderstandings then, but I think we can put that behind us now. My e-mail is still the same as last year, if you don’t still have it let me know. Thanks for your congratulations, good luck with your language studies.

  5. Helen Says:

    Yes , I don’t have your E-mail Address , and I only remember this website .And it is unconvenient to talk here , so you send a email to me or write your email on the reply . I will be a reader for your blog again , and hope you will welcome my comments .

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