Leon Chazanow on Stein

To: alumverse@dept.english.upenn.edu
From: Leon Chazanow <chazanow@mailhost2.planet.net>
Subject: Hubris, Titantic-like sacrifice

Concerning the Stein excerpt about her friends' fatal accident, it seems to me that a great deal turns on the word "sacrifice." There is a taunting irony in the preceding panegyric to the "excellent" condition of the road, which is "extremely well graded"--the engineering feats that we all rely on so smugly. Why would larger vehicles (trucks, heavy equipment, truck drivers--more in touch, more experienced with the elements, perhaps)--the prudent ones, ones who know what can happen, more in touch with reality, the limitations of our touted roads [(like the internet, our modern "highway")--not to say we're sacrificing anything here--far from it--perhaps this is a limitation of Stein and her time-- tech stuff was still heavy--and possibly physically dangerous, hazardous--but smugly held up--like the Titanic, as immune--hubris, no? But is there hubris in this discussion now, not seeing each other, using these cyberspace ciphers rather than voice-connected speaking? Are we losing our selves--are we losing our eyes? Oedipus?]. The wind, nature, was that to which a sacrifice was made, the gods, the elements. We don't do sacrifice anymore in the same way--that was back with Homer, wasn't it, and others--Iphigenia and the crew---don't we stay away from that kind of thing these days? Or do we. Perhaps we sacrifice those less prudent. Alfred Hitchcock would have loved this one. He was agoraphobic, I seem to remember. A Night to Remember, sitting and waiting for the ship to go down.

Having been blessed, let us bless it.

Having made our technological (road)bed, let us lie in it--dead. There's no turning back. Some of us certainly will die so that others can drive. We are an arrogant bunch--especially the engineers who think that their roads are so safe.

Modern tragedy.

The more I read it, the better it gets. But is my distance from the monitor enough to prevent cataracts? Will our eyes become the modern "sheep, hen, cock, village, ruin (what shall we)" as we type away now so far away from each other--donating our corneas to computer science?