I recall that the poet Ezra Pound remarked that the telescope wasn’t merely a useful idea, it was very decidedly a technical achievement.
I’m in mind of this just now, late Sunday, evening coming on, because I’ve been thinking that contemporary America is in a contagion of ideas–some of them perfectly useful–but seldom are they linked to the technical proficiency suited to the purpose. I remember first feeling this way when Ronald Reagan began prattling about a “star wars missile shield” and in turn co-opted Congress to such a degree that they spent our nation’s precious public education and health care resources on a decadent thought, a thought alone, a thought without techne.
G.E. is advertising its capacities for generating wind power; G.M. is advertising cars they don’t make yet. Imagine if Galileo had followed this plan. My point, such as it is, is that no one would have invested in the telescope had Galileo talked about it in advance of the fact. We are becoming soft on “the fact” or the “thing achieved” and lax by turns in what we will say.
Have we finally become a nation that’s only interested in “the sizzle” as opposed to the beefsteak?
We sure have a lot of sizzle slingers these days.