Friday, March 16, 2007

a scarry prospect

I went to an Elaine Scarry lecture last night. She is the Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value at Harvard University and she speaks on a wide variety of topics, but the topic of the evening was nuclear armament. Her lectures are dense and hard to assimilate, at least by those less intelligent like myself, but her basic stipulations (War and the Social Contract: Nuclear Policy, Distribution, and the Right to Bear Arms) are deeply compelling and relevant in the current political climate, and her Q & A interactions after the lecture really heated things up.

I would like to believe her thesis on the possibility of unilateral nuclear disarmament, but I am not entirely convinced of humanity's ability to take and maintain the course of action necessary to materialize her theory. I guess I am cynical. I don't know that I believe humanity, with its roots in Darwinian evolution and its inexorable impulse to survive at all costs, is capable of putting aside its essential nature and its most horrific arms to create a stable, lasting, and nuclear-free future. If I were to be convinced otherwise, however, Elaine Scarry would be the woman to do it.

By the way, I'm glad to know the War on Terror is going so well.

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“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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