Friday, August 31, 2012

Blame OSSIAN, not Obama, for why American Skeptics deny Climate Change

Ossian, godfather of CLIMATE CHANGE !
Ossian ?!  A fake bard from 250 years ago ? What on earth , heaven and the multi-varient Universe does he have to with denying Global Warming  - you're barmy !

Ossian , son of Fingal, is albeit inadvertently , the only-begetter of the hatred thrown up against the revolutionary changes he directly brought in and against the general idea (that he also brought in) that things are always changing and always changing in unpredictable ways.

In this case the hatred is against climate change, but worry not, in time this eternal fear of un-certitudes and against the greys of reality will move on to new targets.

Ossian - if you still remember anything from high school or university  -is that 1760s fake creation from the otherwise-obscure James MacPherson that is generally agreed to have sparked the reaction against 18th century Classicalism that we now call 19th Century Romanticism.

If you were only half listening to your teachers you do recall the terms but deflate them to only referring to literature and , maybe, the visual arts.

Wrong, wrong, wrong !

They were not "just" art movements or even - slightly bigger - "political ideologies".

They were the ultimate biggies : all encompassing worldviews held - in their day - by most anybody who was anybody as just common sense, pure and simple.

Hegemonic hegemonies, in other words.

But then, by the 1850s, Romanticism lost much of its short lived hegemony and a highly self-conscious opposing movement emerged (counter-romanticism/pro-classicalism) and was called - by its critics - Late Victorian Scientism.

But it had to share the stage with Romanticism which had by then lost its self-conscious 'movement' nature and merged into simple common sense.

Today most all of us hold bits and pieces of both Romanticism and its Scientism critics inside of us, all in a glorious muddle.

Where we all differ - and all 7 billion of us do differ - is in the proportions of these two we hold inside us as the basis for all our other beliefs.

To Deny is to be anti-Romanticism

Deniers - it is fair to say - are highly un-Romantic , highly pro-Scientism , not withstanding their attacks on today's living, practising, scientists.

The rapid and rabid popularity of MacPherson's "beautiful poetic forgery" across all of Europe, alarming the powers-to-be everywhere.

Hard to imagine poetry doing that today - but think of alarms over Rap lyrics or the reaction against Pussy Riot, to see we scribblers still have the potential to alarm our barely-literate superiors every time we put pen to paper.

Ossian's poetry emerged in the extreme North West of Europe - as far away as possible from Europe's civilized roots in the extreme South East of the continent - Greece and Italy.

Add to this geographic affront to good taste and breeding , was the fact that this was the work not of Greek aristocrats with education and breeding , but of untutored peasants, living in dire poverty under harsh - not azure blue - skies.

Worst of all, the young everywhere - particularly those with the most education and breeding - loved the stuff , tossing aside their millennium old classic texts with disdain.

This Ossian stuff - they said - was the work of pure genius - pure untutored genius !

Genius - then being using for the first time in our modern day sense of the word, was bad enough.

But its association with untutoredness - no,  more than that - its association only with untutoredness, was literally Revolutionary, in the widest sense of that over used term.

For this poetry literally revolved - flipped - all previous values on their heads : day was now night, black was now white.

Rude, untutored, uneducated, genius (aka street smarts or native intelligence) was now set ahead of highly (highly expensively) educated people from old families of good breeding and manners.

Think of the same situation today - for very little has changed , at least on the untutored side.

When almost everybody today has to have a certificate of some sort to make a living (even ditch diggers need their heavy equipment operating papers ), some people still get fabulously rich, important and admired, without any sort of certificate.

They even make a point of flaunting their relative lack of professional education or institutional accreditation to account for their success.

They are the same people that arose to threat classicalism and the aristocracy in Ossian's day: entrepreneurs, inventors, writers and entertainers/artists.

Who hasn't seen one's friends, people with too much money and not enough self-honesty, sending their lazy dolts of children off to get highly expensive education to obtain a MBA,PhD, MA in creative writing, BJ or MFA because the kid - when pushed - pretends to a faint interest in 'doing' that sort of thing for a living.

From expensive pre-school, to expensive post doc living expenses subsidies, with expensive educational toys,summer camps, tutors and educational trips to Europe in between, modern parents spent a million 2012 dollars to give their kid 25 years of the best possible education of the old breeding and Grand Tours sort.

The only change is that starting in the 1850s, the need to know the classics to be considered a highly educated part of the natural aristocracy was gradually replaced by a need to know some form of science - say hard like chemistry or soft like economics.

Their kids now know everything that is already known about the past and present of their chosen field: and is not the past and present, a la Charles Lyell , a reliable guide to the future ?

(In reality, all this is really just a way to avoid heavy inheritance taxes on your death, by spending as much of it as possible - now - on your kids' education. You are hoping to ensure the family's wealth and influence moves forward in time via education rather than by inheritances.)

Today's professionals are yesterday's classical aristocracy in a new guise

These are the "heavily-tutored competent". Aka the professionals.

(For I think you could fairly abstract the whole point of this post as me claiming that yesterday's aristocracy: classicalism: professionalism: today's aristocracy.)

But then some uneducated immigrant with chutzpah and drive blasts well past your precious kid's MBA or a tiny garage and an lone inventor discovers what a university full of PhDs like your son could not, or a street kid's painting, writings or comic turn makes her a famous personality while your daughter puts her MFA to work teaching uncaring high school kids in some small city in the Mid West.

Those fracking, fracking, damn untutored geniuses - it just isn't fair !

These guys know nothing of the present or the past - thus leaving them open to make lots of mistakes - and to discover the future.

Bruce Springsteen, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson : all have recently blasted well past kids with 25 expensive years of good education.

They represent as much unplanned, unpredicted, uncertain, mercurial change as Ossian did yesterday or the Climate will for tomorrow - and they are all equally hated by well educated professional deniers cum competent nobodies * of every generation.....

* Our think tanks are just filled with the well breed well educated second rates of this world : little wonder they envy the sudden rises of those superstars of academia the climate scientist.

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