Friday 4 June 2021

Modern civilisation is a universal conspiracy to destroy the inner life

"...the only problem that concerns you is how to get your carcase conveyed from one place to another at a speed faster than lightning. Fools! Who are you running away from? Alas! you are running away from yourselves—everyone of you is trying to escape from himself, as though he believed that by faster and faster flight he could, at last, get out of the close sheath of his skin… One cannot understand the least thing about modern civilisation if one does not first and foremost realise that it is a universal conspiracy to destroy the inner life."
Georges Bernanos (1888-1948) in his 1944 essay La France contre les Robots. (He was a Catholic and monarchist who supported the Free French and De Gaulle during the war from the safety of his voluntary exile in Argentina, in case you wondered about his war record.)

Is technology a conspiracy to destroy inner life? Undoubtedly - and outer life too, as was clearer in 1944 than now. For some planes and trains (not automobiles) provide the best times for reflection but others work on their laptops. 

But we cannot entirely blame technology and anyway what would be the point in doing so? I am reminded of what AJP Taylor said. People did not start to travel because of the invention of the railways. Had they not wanted to travel the trains would have run empty.

Outer movement is a substitute for spiritual journeys. On the other hand, as Eliade, said we travel abroad to explore our unconscious mind. Travel is not the great threat to inner life, though riding and walking are much more contemplative than airports. The internet is the threat and especially social media

But so were television and pop music. Censored and censuring though Twitter and Facebook are they allow vastly more freedom of expression than the traditional media did. And that's the danger - they, more than procrastination which they engender, are the thief of time. 

Or do I mean the whirligig of time bringing his revenges?

I seem to be spinning quotations rather than thinking, so shall end this post here.

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