Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Pangloss or Candide?


I almost began this post by attributing "God is in his heaven,/ All's right with the world" to Voltaire.  I thought that was Candide's mantra.  Rather, the line is from Robert Browning.  What I was thinking of was "all is best. . . in the best of all possible worlds."  But Candide didn't say that, either.  It was Pangloss, the Leibnizian scholar who is Candide's tutor.  Candide's famous mantra is "we must tend our garden."  

Once I had that straightened out, I went to a page on Leibniz.  Forget about a summary here.  What a thinker, a polymath, they say.  Indeed, he was a rationalist, a mathematician, and a physicist.  I can't begin to summarize his achievements in even a long paragraph, but be assured, I will be doing my research on him.  How have I not by now?  I'm an educated hillbilly, but an uneducated fool, I'd say.  That's about as honest as I can be.  

"Candide: The Optimist" was written in opposition to Leibniz' idea that the world was the most perfect world God could make.  I doubt that Voltaire was as bright as Leibniz, but he was surely more entertaining, and now, who is more often read?  

I can't answer that with any real authority.  

As usual, I am taking the long way to my tale, if tale it can be called.  I will begin, and together we shall see.  

* * *

That didn't happen.  I began writing that yesterday, but the tale I was going to tell has been waylaid, I'm afraid.  It was going to be another grand parable about happiness and positivity and my reaction to Self-Help and Life Coach gurus, but then, instead of researching Leibniz, I watched this (link) which got me thinking about The Woke and their relationship to the past.  Surely the people of the generation of "liberals" were happy and having fun.  I wanted to write about the dourness of a generation raised on theory.  But then, balls deep into my research, I saw this (link) which led me to this (link) which led me to many, many more.  Oh, my. . . it was a long night of study.  And in the end, I figured I needed to change my thesis.  Apparently people take to theory as they do religion.  What I mean is there is the old saw of Saturday nights and Sunday mornings.  Modern Feminist Theology seems able to encompass both.  I can't watch those videos, though, without thinking of Camille Paglia (link).  Sometimes she nails it.  The link I have supplied is not her page.  I could link you to her scholarly work, but why?  I am trying to help you understand easily.  Let me be your Spiritual Counselor here.  Paglia is now more pop than scholar.  She may be no Judith Butler, but who is read more now?

I can't answer that with any real authority. 

I know, I know. . .  I am worse than the people I criticize.  Like most, I am unable to perform the theory.  Still, I would implore you to watch "Below Deck Mediterranean, (Season 3, Episodes 13 and 14 for you research scholars) (link) in which the primary charter guest is a motivational speaker reading a Wayne Dwyer book.  You can decide for yourself which sort of person you are after viewing that.  

And of course, you should read "Candide," or, if you are more like what I have become in Covid isolation. . . (link).  

Spring Break in Ft. Lauderdale is happening right now, by the way, if you are looking to do more research.  I, like Candide after his many journeys, will be here, at home, tending my garden.  

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