Saturday, December 11, 2021

set off when we began to make nature serve us

Digital montages © Roy R. Behrens 2021
Below is a passage by a Scottish poet, novelist and translator. It was written in 1964, when he was in his late 70s. As I read it, it occurred to me that the same passage could have been written today (in view of the storms that took place overnight), to describe the dilemma we find ourselves in.

Edwin Muir, Autobiography. New York: William Sloane Associates, 1964, p. 194—

…the world has been divided into two hostile camps; and our concern has ceased to be the community or country we live in, and has become the single, disunited world: a vast abstraction, and at the same time a dilemma which, as it seems, we must all solve together or on which we must all be impaled together. This world was set going when we began to make nature serve us, hoping that we should eventually reach a stage where we would not have to adapt ourselves at all: machinery would save the trouble. We did not foresee that the machinery would grow into a great impersonal power, and that as it grew more perfect we should become more powerless and be forced at last into a position not chosen by us, or chosen in blindness before we knew where our desires were leading.

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