Saturday, August 26, 2006

A Century

My 100th post, I believe, so I'll just indulge a bit of navel-gazing I've been doing if you don't mind.

I've been reading rather a lot of Tom Sharpe lately, on the recommendation of a fellow Evelyn Waugh lover, and while I don't know that he (Sharpe, I mean) is quite in a league with the black prince of English letters, he is still really quite excellent.

In his novel Blott on the Landscape, Sharpe observes of the character Dundridge--a middling, middle-rung bureaucrat of the sort that has catalyzed the oozing metamorphosis of once Great Britain into this fiddly banality we now call the UK--that he "lived if not for the present at least the immediate future." Which seems to me to be one of the more succinct appraisals of man as he now is, i.e. comfortably (or, perhaps, indifferently) industrialized. For it is the characteristic feature of our age that we refuse, on principle, the need for selflessness or (Dog forbid its mere mention!) self-denial, but neither are we effectively self-serving. That is to say, we haven't either the benefit of our children or of ourselves at heart.

I wonder if so much of the human race at a time has ever before been so futile, bereft both of tragedy and comedy. Strangely enough, the only productive or creative force left to us in this condition is satire. Rather depressing, what what?