One of the Roman poet Martial’s verses goes this way (as translated by Garry Wills):
“This darkling world he claims, with rue,
Has run itself into a ditch.
And he can prove his thesis true:
In such a cosmos—he is rich.”
As 2019 concludes this surely is a darkling world. Certainly the thesis true is pessimistic. One’s reminded how cheap the pessimism is.
I’m reminded of Chesterton who pointed out that fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.
Fashionable pessimism is all the rage.
This is an old story.
Chesterton again: “the reformer is always right about what’s wrong. He is generally wrong about what is right…”
Reformers are better than pessimists because they believe in actions. But as Chesterton rightly points out, reformers can miss what’s good.
Harkening back to Martial I have the following New Year’s resolution: I will not be rich in the darkling cosmos of my own making.
ABOUT: Stephen Kuusisto is the author of the memoirs Have Dog, Will Travel; Planet of the Blind (a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year”); and Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening and of the poetry collections Only Bread, Only Light and Letters to Borges. A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and a Fulbright Scholar, he has taught at the University of Iowa, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and Ohio State University. He currently teaches at Syracuse University where he holds a University Professorship in Disability Studies. He is a frequent speaker in the US and abroad. His website is StephenKuusisto.com.
(Photo picturing the cover of Stephen Kuusisto’s new memoir “Have Dog, Will Travel” along with his former guide dogs Nira (top) and Corky, bottom.) Bottom photo by Marion Ettlinger