Monday, January 17, 2011

For our "love of aimless stimulation"

Aldous Huxley, who, along with Witggenstein, Camus, Kerouac, W.G. Seabald, Bob Dylan, W.H. Auden, the Welshman Dylan Thomas, Orwell, Von Balthasar, Eugene Peterson, Ratzinger, Pater Tom, Wojtyla, and Giussani, all Trappists, Carthusians, Caremlites, the early Karl Marx (before he went all dialectician on us) as well as others too numerous to name in a blog post, recognized the great peril in which we have placed our humanity, which, oddly, may have been best exemplified recently by the people in the film Wall-E, hits the nail on the head in his essay Distractions - I, observing in full prophetic mode way back in 1946:

"But it is upon fashions, cars and gadgets, upon news and the advertising for which news exists, that our present industrial and economic system depends for its proper functioning. For...this system cannot work unless the demand for non-necessities is not merely kept up, but continually expanded; and of course it cannot be kept up and expanded except by incessant appeals to greed, competitiveness and love of aimless stimulation. Men have always been a prey to distractions, which are the original sin of the mind; but never before today has an attempt been made to organize and exploit distractions, to make of them, because of their economic importance, the core and vital center of human life..."

I came across this quote from Huxley last night while reading Tim Vivian's introduction to The Coptic Life of Antony in his book Journeying into God: Seven Early Monastic Lives, which is a book well worth any one's while.

He also includes a nice corollary to Poe's Eldorado, as well as a lovely antithesis to what Huxely so accurately describes, when he quotes Pater Tom: "Our real journey in life is interior: it is a matter of growth, of deepening and of an ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts."

Just as I was finishing typing this post and getting ready to go see him, my Mom called and told me that my Dad passed away this morning. We got him home from the hospital yesterday knowing he would pass, but not knowing when. If you knew my Dad, you would know that he would endorse the message in this post.  Rest in peace, Dad. His last decision was to leave the hospital to die at home, being cared for and surrounded by his family.

Stephen Roger Dodge 17 June 1938 to 17 January 2011.


  1. Aldous Huxley summarized it well.

    My condolences to your and your family.

  2. Let's add David Foster Wallace, author of "Infinite Jest," to the list of those who warn us about distraction. Good piece, thanks.

  3. My prayers are with you and your family today.

    Deacon Bob Yerhot

  4. Ruth Ann and Bob, I appreciate your condolences.

    Webster- WE can certainly add DFW to my list. Thanks for correcting my oversight.

  5. The Ironic CatholicJanuary 18, 2011 at 9:38 PM

    Peace these days, Scott.

  6. Hanging around Fr. Carley exposes you to much poetry as we save our "party pieces" for the next cèilidh to enchant. Oddly enough, I had chosen "El Dorado".
    Requiscat in Pace, noble Saint,
    No toil or labor fear...

  7. My condolences to you and your family.

  8. Dear Scott,
    i have been away from reading others posts fro a while and only read this today so please accept my condolences on your father'sdeath and know that you and your family are in my prayers.
    May God's Blessings and peace be with you at this sad time.