I remember reading something to this effect recently, that whatever dynamism was being infused into cultural life by bloggers has moved on to newer, more timely formats and modes of expression, that blogging had been mainstreamed, adopted and taken over (on the Google Search Rankings anyway) by the organized, professional media. It makes sense. I certainly have to come to grips with the realization that the historical moment has passed this blog by. When I started I had taken for one of my models the old Spectator papers of 1711-12 which took both contemporary England and the course of English literary history by storm. This page has now been going considerably longer than the original Spectator did (it lasted about 16 months, I think), and, so far as I can tell, its impact on society and history to this point has not been comparably pronounced. So do I do the wise, the pro-active, the vital thing, and shut the blog down and anticipate, even have a hand in creating, the next wave of literary-inflected communication, be for once at the forefront of a movement instead of straggling in amidst a motley mass long after all the choicest vantages have been claimed? No, because I am incapable of imagining that anything new will be the thing needed, let alone any good or not, before I am clubbed over the head with evidence of it, but changes will be coming, the tone and atmosphere of the page will be made less overbearing, and hopefully a stage will be reached where I can rationally determine if there is a purpose for the blog to continue, and if so to let it attain that purpose in a manner indicative of some degree of amiable humanity, and if not to recognize the fact and let it be snuffed out.
Cold Climates and Poverty. Having recently been reading some (in my current opinion greatly exaggerated) estimations of the hardships and deprivations about to sweep the American populace due to the collapse of the economy concurrently with a recent traveler's account--Paul Theroux's new book actually where he retraces the trip across Asia he took in 1973--of the incredible level of poverty that still exists in India, all of which was juxtaposed with a solid thirty day stretch where the temperature never got above 20 degrees, I became convinced that such sqalid conditions--the incredible numbers of people sleeping on the streets, in train stations, in tin and cardboard shacks, defecating and washing clothes in the rivers, battling with rats over scraps of food, etc, that are frequently remarked about life in third world countries--would be impossible to duplicate in any northern latitude on any but the tiniest scale due to the climate. People would freeze or starve to death, or have to leave, very quickly if conditions reached that desperate state. For some reason the idea of 100,000 people in Vermont freezing to death (only about 400,000 live there, and the majority wouldn't ordinarily die even under extreme dire circumstances) is less disturbing to me than its being crammed with 20 million living at an Indian level of poverty; I hope this is because I don't think it (the mass death by freezing) is ever really going to happen. That the climate of India allows for the survival of tens of millions of people effectively without housing or any participation in the greater economy through apparently endless generations I thought was its peculiar curse, though this is certainly not the proper way to look at the matter from any spiritual point of view; India being of course famously one of the most spiritually developed places on the planet, while the snow belt of North America historically has been conspicuously neglected by the palpable presence of any vital gods whatsoever. Indeed, the presence of gods, or at least interesting ones, appears to correlate highly with a confluence of sunshine, heat and a large, materially deprived population, all of which is short supply in most of the world's cooler regions.
There are however a few anomalies which threaten to confuse my theory, the main ones at the moment being Russia, and Detroit, though it is probably not a coincidence that these are currently two of the most rapidly depopulating areas on the planet. The survival, not to mention the continuous growth and relative increase in strength of Russia over the last 800 years seems to me one of the more improbable episodes of history given the incredibly harsh conditions of life as a poor person--always the vast majority of the population--and seemingly inconsistent patterns of industry and social organization that have often held sway there. Now that they can however more people than previously do appear to be deciding that it is not worth while carrying on there anymore. Detroit meanwhile seems simply to have ceased to function at a level necessary to sustain, or even to offer any reasonable hope of ever attaining again, most of the basic requirements for human beings to thrive in a rather dismal climate. I would say that it has really no choice but to die or become even more grotesque, but it is curious that Windsor, Ontario, which is right next door, as well as other nearby cities in Ontario seem to be prosperous and at least somewhat alive. They function anyway, and have attained some mastery over poverty, which the consensus seems to be are triumphs beyond the grasp of any collective will Detroit as presently constituted can hope to muster.
Picture: I am pretty sure this is Detroit. If it isn't, it should be. Jobs They Never Told Us About in School, Part 1
The children in the picture below are not merely playing with paints, as the naive reader might suppose, they are engaging in Art Therapy. Art Therapy is a profession requiring considerable training (and certification) in both Art and Therapy in which patients are enabled to heal psychologically through engagement with the fine arts, which sounds akin to the long tradition of depressives seeking consolation through philosophy, religion, poetry, music, etc, that have been coming down to us since antiquity, only now with the assistance of a professional Art Therapist, the likes of which would have been only to Boethius or Mill. It is not an especially lucrative profession--the median income is $45,000, with a master's degree, though administrators or Phds in private practice can sometimes make up to $100,000. Still, their self-esteem and belief that their work is important seems to be fairly high, which is no small consideration. There are 4 of them employed where I work (all women), and they are not in the least abashed to proclaim what they do before the greatest neurosurgeons and millionaire benefactors of the organization.