March 25, 2010

The long line of supposedly beaten generations

Portrait of the author as a young man
'That is how the hero of our time must be,' [wrote a contemporary critic of Mikhail Lermontov's 1840 novel A Hero of Our Time] 'he will be characterized either by determined inactivity of else by futile activity' - that is, by either passive conformity to the social norm or petty rebellion against it.
From the introduction to Mikhail Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time
Nothing changes. That said, I got divorced the other week, and events surrounding that have been behind the recent lack of posts, as I wanted to avoid explicitly dealing with the topic, although it's really all that I've been thinking about for the last two months or so. Hence the easing back into things with just quotes from things I've been reading. But the one above, and the whole air of the novel, reminds me that every modern generation seems to think that's uniquely on the verge of disaster and disillusionment, from the fin de si├Ęcle by way of the Lost Generation and through the Beats and on to the Millennials.

What amazes me about Lermontov's feeling that there's nothing to be done is that it comes only 40 - 50 yrs after the French revolution, and only 20 since the death of Napoleon, but this is something for another post - I just need to get back in the habit.

March 24, 2010

The farther we stray from intuitions

...the deeper we probe into the nature of things, the stranger they tend to look. That is not surprising: the deeper we probe into the nature of things, the farther we stray from the intuitions about macroscopic objects (and about human psychology, etc.) that were sculpted into our brains by natural selection.