The discussion doesn't degenerate...
March 20 2002 at 8:46 PM

Response to motivation

...until we start calling each other names. And that's not about to happen, so it's cool.

If we look at people who actually made the greatest different, those who constitute cultural, political and economic landmarks, can we really say they weren't acting selfishly?

First, you're absolutely right. No question about it, mavericks shake the world, for better or worse. Now, are these people "better" or worth emulating? To take up Eli's position, that is truly a personal decision.

Your point is well stated, and of course the work of great minds "trickles down" whether they intended it to or not; whether art is made so the artist has something to jack off to or to sell, two hundred years later its "value" is in the eyes of the beholder. I don't see my point or yours being in contradiction at all. With one exception -- and this goes back to my discussion with Oscar on the other board about personal drive to change the political atmosphere or anything else. Great folks might be nuts, or inspired, genuises, excellent bullshit artists, or just plain lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. But it is unquestionable in my mind that the great seething mass of humanity you seem to label as "not great" (in the purely logical sense) is the force behind the acceptance and assimilation of the "Great Ones'" societal changes, works, inspirations, or inventions. If the unwashed masses don't buy into your earthshattering scheme, tough shit, it's finished. History is littered with ideas ahead of their time, great and grand notions, ideas, inventions, philosophies, and whatnot that the masses failed to adopt.

Sure, the individual contribution of the average "real man" is small. He follows the laws, raises good kids, pays his taxes, cuts his grass. Not exciting stuff. But this man, and hundreds of millions like him, make choices each and every day that, in and of themselves, don't mean much, but taken together, the course of the world is changed. "Great Men" are either signposts, forks in the road, or speedbumps, but rarely anything more.

Here's a perfect example -- Deng Xiaoping. When I was a kid, he was a figure in the history books, but limited to China. China was broke-ass poor, a laughtingstock of science, technology, military power; a curiosity more than anything else. Today, because hundreds of millions of people, whether they realize it or not, are giving rise to a great "new" nation because they buy billions and billions of dollars worth of chinese rubber dogshit each year. These people have not sought this stuff out, it's just here for us because a few people in the early 80s thought it would be a good idea to outsource to the place cos they could make a few bucks extra per piece of junk. the chinese, of course, wanted to grow and regain some measure of greatness, but this doesn't make them unique ... all countries want that. It's the customers in the U.S., Japan, and Europe that are unwittingly giving rise to this Chinese superstate. If the aspirations of the Chinese and all their "great men" counted for anything, they'd have long since been a superpower. They're impotent... it is hundreds of millions of peons who are empowering these people. And so we create our strategic rival with our own money. And in a hundred years, Deng Xiaoping is a truly global figure.

So floweth the recognition of world history.

I guess, the point is there is room for all kinds, absolutely, great and small men alike. Just don't denigrate the small man cos that's neither fair not smart.



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