Why So Few?

You can either watch the video, or read the following passage, from the movie Waking Life.

“There are two kinds of sufferers in this world:
those who suffer from a lack of life…
and those who suffer from an overabundance of life.
I’ve always found myself in the second category.
When you come to think of it,
almost all human behavior and activity…
is not essentially any different from animal behavior.
The most advanced technologies and craftsmanship…
bring us, at best, up to the super-chimpanzee level.
Actually, the gap between,
say, Plato or Nietzsche and the average human…
is greater than the gap between that chimpanzee
and the average human.
The realm of the real spirit,
the true artist, the saint, the philosopher,
is rarely achieved.
Why so few?
Why is world history and evolution not stories of progress…
but rather this endless and futile addition of zeroes?
No greater values have developed.
Hell, the Greeks years ago were just as advanced
as we are.
So what are these barriers that keep people…
from reaching anywhere near their real potential?
The answer to that can be found in another question,
and that’s this:
Which is the most universal human characteristic–
fear or laziness?”

What blocks the path of man? Who is to blame? Why so few? Why so few?

Most men would sooner die than think, in fact, they do so. Bertrand Russell

To put my intellectual talent to proof, I usually avoid common routes of thought, and I endeavour to find the uneasy path of the peculiar explanation. This is not the case this time. I wish to take the easy road.

From the beggining of craftsmanship and greatness, eons ago, Man has understood that with great power, comes great need to control the minds of people. A thousand strategies to intervene with human affairs and secure a safe and totalitarian state of mind have been tried, and most perished with their societes, their leaders, and their thieves. One, above all, has been fruitful enough to survive to this day. Religion.

No one today doubts that religion has been an evil force for most of the time it has existed, though not all recognize that a great deal of moral safety was created through it. If has religion made any useful contributions to civilization is not my present theme, for I do not profess to thrive further than did Bertie. But I want to give a temptative answer to the “Why so few?” question. Religion is the main force beneath it. The way of religion is that of a dog’s master, and the first thing a dog ought to understand is who is the master, and who is the dog. Pope Benedict has extensively written on the topic of secularization, that is, the enlightment of institutions, during which structures which were previously religious become progressively secular, during such process many of the sociological basis of religiousity of course tend to remain embedded within the infrastructure of the concerned parties, which is what I wish to hold responsible for our lack of greatness.

If there is no cannon professing idiocy and stupidity (and I am ready to acknowledge ignorance of the gospels) then it seems that priests got it all backwards. I assume, therefore, that the teachings of most major religions are explicit when it comes to professing lack of knowledge as a path to the heavens. That being so, I reckon the reason ought to be because such an envinronment would be great to enforce and put in evidence the unfathomable distance between Man and God. What better way to show devotion than with a respectful distance of the throne? The kings of old were tought never to touch with more than two finger a glass cleaned by a peasand, and I can feel the same spirit in Gods choice that his herds be so stupid as to never touch his creation. When the kings of old died, the structure of monarchy has lasted for very long, and to this day we see nobles hanging around in fancy dressing and being covered in the local media, for the peasants pleasure. Why should we expect different behavior from current societies? God is dead, but that has brought us no further when it comes to creating greatness of achievement;, for our social structure is still under the guidance of a last commandment, the commandment of “Us, and Them”.

They are the great ones, those whose leadership and genious have traced the history of mankind, those whom history shall never forget, and for whom we are all eternally greatful. Us, on the other hand, are a group of children, afraid of the powerful forces of nature and unable to deal with even the slightest disturbance in common thought and life. Us is those who will never make a difference, is those who shall never fight, or know why to fight. Us has no purpose, no happiness, no moral, us is but what makes the machine move .
The mind has been poisoned with these ideas for thousands of years, and there is no reason to think they shall fade away without effort. The gap between us and them is no longer there, in fact, it has never been. We are all humans, and though there is a disproportionate distribution of skill, it is unbelievably less steep a hill than have the priests of old made us believe.

The spirit is now free to fear no more, and it is time to bridge the gap, and understand that what separates us from them is but a metaphisical barrier which must be struck apart and destroyed. May we all fight togheter.

“How, in such an alien and inhuman world, can so powerless a creature as Man preserve his aspirations untarnished? A strange mystery it is that Nature, omnipotent but blind, in the revolutions of her secular hurryings through the abysses of space, has brought forth at last a child, subject still to her power, but gifted with sight, with knowledge of good and evil, with the capacity of judging all the works of his unthinking Mother. In spite of death, the mark and seal of the parental control, Man is yet free, during his brief years, to examine, to criticise, to know, and in imagination to create. To him alone, in the world with which he is acquainted, this freedom belongs; and in this lies his superiority to the resistless forces that control his outward life.”
” Let us preserve our respect for truth, for beauty, for the ideal of perfection which life does not permit us to attain, though none of these things meet with the approval of the unconscious universe. If Power is bad, as it seems to be, let us reject it from our hearts. In this lies Man’s true freedom: in determination to worship only the God created by our own love of the good, to respect only the heaven which inspires the insight of our best moments. In action, in desire, we must submit perpetually to the tyranny of outside forces; but in thought, in aspiration, we are free, free from our fellowmen, free from the petty planet on which our bodies impotently crawl, free even, while we live, from the tyranny of death. Let us learn, then, that energy of faith which enables us to live constantly in the vision of the good; and let us descend, in action, into the world of fact, with that vision always before us.”
” In these moments of insight, we lose all eagerness of temporary desire, all struggling and striving for petty ends, all care for the little trivial things that, to a superficial view, make up the common life of day by day; we see, surrounding the narrow raft illumined by the flickering light of human comradeship, the dark ocean on whose rolling waves we toss for a brief hour; from the great night without, a chill blast breaks in upon our refuge; all the loneliness of humanity amid hostile forces is concentrated upon the individual soul, which must struggle alone, with what of courage it can command, against the whole weight of a universe that cares nothing for its hopes and fears. Victory, in this struggle with the powers of darkness, is the true baptism into the glorious company of heroes, the true initiation into the overmastering beauty of human existence. From that awful encounter of the soul with the outer world, renunciation, wisdom, and charity are born; and with their birth a new life begins. To take into the inmost shrine of the soul the irresistible forces whose puppets we seem to be — Death and change, the irrevocableness of the past, and the powerlessness of man before the blind hurry of the universe from vanity to vanity — to feel these things and know them is to conquer them.


5 comentários em “Why So Few?”

  1. I accept alternative theories of why so few as comments. I just ask that no one says that the few are due to IQ distribution, because you can find that all over the net, and we want new interesting theories, not old interesting theories.

  2. Não basta QI alto, tem de se ter necessariamente: a personalidade certa que de a vontade de ser genial e a ausencia do medo de falhar, ter os memes certos e ser honesto intelectualmente. Todos nossos conhecemos algumas pessoas com as varias combinações possiveis de algumas dessas caracteristicas, que em si mesmas são raras. Elas ao mesmo tempo, presuposto necessario a genialidade, é muito mais raro.

  3. Falou muito bem João, eu tinha pensado numa resposta basicamente igual. O medo de falhar, ter os memes certos, etc. são fatores ambientais e como tal sujeitos a uma análise mais extendida. Talvez a religião seja culpada, assim como os governos autoritários, por limitar a liberdade de questionamento e de pensar diferente (impondo o “medo de falhar”), no entanto, não tenho tanta certeza sobre o efeito final da religião, ao menos em alguns casos (por exemplo, Nietzsche e eu tivemos uma criação bastante religiosa e isso não impediu nossa independência de pensamento). Talvez esses casos se devam ao QI, e na sua ausência a religião e os governos autoritários sirvam de maneira negativa, dando respostas prontas que inibem o pensamento. Aliás, talvez ter respostas prontas seja um agente inibidor do pensamento inovativo e consequentemente à divergência de opinião, visto que é um detrimento à sua necessidade.

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