Sunday, August 28, 2011

"All life is a concatenation of ephemeralities."

That was the "Quote of the day" in the local paper recently, attributed to American economist Alfred E. (no, not Newman) Kahn, and it sent me running to my handy Funk & Wagnalls (come on, surely you remember the recurring line from "Laugh-In") to see what it might mean.

It turns out that it translates (if a perfectly good English-language sentence needs translation) into something like, "All life (I got that part) is a series of connected transitory events" which seems to me to leave a lot of room for interpretation. Plus the fact that it was written by an economist doesn't help matters since I'm pretty sure they are trained to write in unintelligible gibberish anyway so no matter what they say it's impossible to prove them wrong (or right, I guess). Otherwise I don't see how there could be so many divergent views about what is wrong with the economy and how to fix it, all claiming to be the one true answer.

So how one interprets the phrase depends on a number of factors. Some would, I am sure, deny it's veracity due to their fatalist world-view that all events are preordained and so not transitory at all while others may deny the connectivity of all events in our lives. I'm sure there could be lively debate on philosophical, religious, scientific or cultural grounds and some would proclaim the phrase to be the central truism of the Universe while others would dismiss it as meaningless claptrap.

I prefer to view it as a statement of hope, full of promise that no matter what events are transpiring right now, in a life, in a nation or in the world, they are temporary and change will come. Optimist that I am, I choose to believe that change is more likely to improve a situation rather than make it worse, especially if we can affect the change to some degree through free-will, which I believe we can. It may take some effort but we can make things better. Hope, I think, is always more productive than despair and any decision based on hope is always better than one based on fear.

That's my view, anyway - aren't you glad you asked?


  1. "any decision based on hope is always better than one based on fear."

    So true, and our last Presidential election bears it out. Dubya owes his re-eleciton 100% to playing on people's fears, and I truly believe Obama appealed to our better natures.

    Having said that, I'm so disappointed in the way he handled the debt ceiling boondoggle that I'm opting out of actively helping him with his re-election campaign. I'll vote for him, but I just don't have the heart to put my all into it as I did last go-round.

    BTW, I haven't responded to the last article you forwarded me (about the possible "splinter" group that could draw votes from Obama), and your blog article here touching on that same topic because I'm sitting with bated breath hoping that the tea party will do more damage to the GOP than (I forget the name now) the other will do to Obama. So far, so good, but we have a lot of months between now and Nov 2012.

  2. @Deb - it's sad that Obama supporters have been reduced to the hope that he will win in 2012 as "the least bad option". My worst fear is that if a Tea-party candidate emerges as the Republication nominee, and I think that is distinctly possible, the Republican Party will unite behind him/her in an "Anybody but Obama" frenzy and any third-party candidate will draw away the independent support that Obama needs to be re-elected. This would be a scenario analagous to the Maine Gubernatorial race that I wrote about. I'd like to rely on the rationality of the American electorate for assurance that Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann are unelectable but rationality seems to be in short supply lately.