Sunday, June 01, 2008

Saul Bellow on the Age of Twilight

It is even said, here and there, that the purpose of civilisation is to permit us all to live like primitive people and lead a neolithic life in an automated society…
It has only been in the last two centuries that the majority of people in civilised countries have claimed the privilege of being individuals. Formerly they were slave, peasant labourer, even artisan, but not person. It is clear that this revolution, a triumph for justice in many ways –slaves should be free, killing toil should end, the soul should have liberty – has also introduced new kinds of grief and misery, and so far, on the broadest scale it has not altogether been a success…We have fallen into much ugliness. It is bewildering to see how much these new individuals suffer, with their new leisure and liberty.

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