A good sharp paragraph from Kirn:
There are things against which even the concerted leveling of brute force is powerless. Beauty. A mystical epiphany. True prowess in some difficult endeavor. The ring of the right word. It’s those things which civilization must protect if it’s to be worthy of the name.
I’ve been saying a related thing, not quite the same thing, in less ringing words.
Life is order and beauty and value. Every living thing creates order out of chaos. Most living things create forms of beauty that we can appreciate, in their flowers or feathers or harmonious sounds or graceful motions. It’s a certain bet that the others are creating forms of beauty outside of our sense range, or beyond our appreciation.
I’m less sanguine about the limits of brute force and the protection of civilization. Brute force can’t be opposed or limited by preservers. Western civilization stopped preserving and started obliterating a LONG time ago. Brute force has been obliterating every bit of order and beauty it can FIND, using all the power it can muster.
The enforcers work fanatically hard to create chaos and obliterate order and beauty, but they are a FINITE set of demons with FINITE budgets. The beauty generators are INFINITE.
We have to maintain our stores of order and beauty in small ways and hidden places, below the visual field of the zoning boards and HOAs and Public Death Officers and stock markets and environmentalists.