On desperation

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays Desperation is not, of course, to be confused with despair. Both are marked by the absence of hope, but whereas despair is passive, desperation is active. People sunk into despair tend to do nothing; desperate people will doContinue reading “On desperation”

On human exceptionalism

Modern man does not experience himself as a part of nature but as an outside force destined to dominate and conquer it. He even talks of a battle with nature, forgetting that, if he won the battle, he would find himself on the losing side. E F Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if PeopleContinue reading “On human exceptionalism”

On being overwhelmed

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery. Wilkins Micawber in Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist This is where we are: we have a wide range of urgent problems which all need to be solved, and the resources toContinue reading “On being overwhelmed”

On death

Tʜᴇʀᴇ’ꜱ ɴᴏ ᴊᴜꜱᴛɪᴄᴇ, ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ’ꜱ ᴊᴜꜱᴛ ᴍᴇ. – Death, in Terry Pratchett, Mort Death has become rather topical these days, what with the pandemic. At the time of writing, it’s difficult to assess the actual level of excess mortality globally, given the paucity of data and the variability from country to country in such data asContinue reading “On death”

On the collapse of civilisation

We’re doomed! – Private Frazer There is much talk on the interwebs about the imminent fall of civilisation. There’s an entire subreddit devoted to it, whose membership has increased dramatically over the last twelve months, not that I would necessarily recommend it. I’d like to spend this week’s post unpacking this idea of civilisational collapseContinue reading “On the collapse of civilisation”

On fear

No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear. – Edmund Burke I don’t know about you, but I’m quite scared a lot of the time. I’m talking lying-awake-at-night scared. There seems to be a lot of it about at the moment. People fear the unknown. InContinue reading “On fear”