Leon Chazanow on Stein
From: Leon Chazanow <email@example.com>
Subject: Hubris, Titantic-like sacrifice
Concerning the Stein excerpt about her friends' fatal accident, it seems to
me that a great deal turns on the word "sacrifice." There is a taunting
irony in the preceding panegyric to the "excellent" condition of the road,
which is "extremely well graded"--the engineering feats that we all rely on
so smugly. Why would larger vehicles (trucks, heavy equipment, truck
drivers--more in touch, more experienced with the elements, perhaps)--the
prudent ones, ones who know what can happen, more in touch with reality, the
limitations of our touted roads [(like the internet, our modern
"highway")--not to say we're sacrificing anything here--far from it--perhaps
this is a limitation of Stein and her time-- tech stuff was still heavy--and
possibly physically dangerous, hazardous--but smugly held up--like the
Titanic, as immune--hubris, no? But is there hubris in this discussion now,
not seeing each other, using these cyberspace ciphers rather than
voice-connected speaking? Are we losing our selves--are we losing our eyes?
Oedipus?]. The wind, nature, was that to which a sacrifice was made, the
gods, the elements. We don't do sacrifice anymore in the same way--that was
back with Homer, wasn't it, and others--Iphigenia and the crew---don't we
stay away from that kind of thing these days? Or do we. Perhaps we sacrifice
those less prudent. Alfred Hitchcock would have loved this one. He was
agoraphobic, I seem to remember. A Night to Remember, sitting and waiting
for the ship to go down.
Having been blessed, let us bless it.
Having made our technological (road)bed, let us lie in it--dead. There's no
turning back. Some of us certainly will die so that others can drive. We are
an arrogant bunch--especially the engineers who think that their roads are
The more I read it, the better it gets. But is my distance from the monitor
enough to prevent cataracts? Will our eyes become the modern "sheep, hen,
cock, village, ruin (what shall we)" as we type away now so far away from
each other--donating our corneas to computer science?