Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Smith, Nietzsche, Shaw, Wells, Wilde, Orwell, Lucas, & Sri Aurobindo

Backtracking a little bit to the earlier posts concerning meditation, I came across these quotes from the Super-Guru, Sri Aurobindo. Have you ever heard of him? This Aurobindo Wiki entry is a good introduction, but needless to say, he seemed to know just about everything about everything, and wrote prolifically about it with such amazing acuity, insight, wisdom, and supreme knowledge, that one wonders whether one might possibly overcome his propensity for sentences that run-on in the extreme, in a prosaic style which could only be described as dated, beyond what any reasonable reader may be willing to continue concentrating upon, or even caring about, so that one (in this case the aforementioned reader) might eventually have to give up to the simple fact, arising from the intricate convolutions of his grammatical style and intensely profound and esoteric subject matter, that one has forgotten what he (being The Super-Guru Aurobindo) was talking about in the first place.
But bear with him and you'll find he really knew everything about everything. It's best to tackle his small, edited collections first, like: The Future Evolution of Man, and Bases of Yoga. What was I talking about again? Oh yes- Aurobindo"s observations on meditation...Dig how concise and amazing these bits from Bases of Yoga:[…]
He continues on (and on) in the generous and helpful manner that was his trademark. His teachings on the spiritual evolution of humankind are truly profound and essential. As you see from the above quote, he may very well have influenced George Lucas, and definitely others including Ram Dass, Sri Chinmoy, and Michael Murphy, founder of the Esalen Institute, and author of Golf in the Kingdom. POSTED BY RJK AT 12:40 PM 

H.G. Wells and Adam Smith. [This article is chapter 6 of Literature and the Economics of Liberty: Spontaneous Order in Culture.] Mises Daily: Friday, September 17, 2010 by Paul A. Cantor
[3] It is surprising how few critics have explored the economic dimension of The Invisible Man. The only one I have been able to find is Roslynn D. Haynes, who, in her H.G. Wells: Discoverer of the Future: The Influence of Science on His Thought (London: Macmillan, 1980), makes a passing comment on Griffin's "bourgeois mania for financial gain" (p. 203).
[4] The phrase "invisible hand" actually occurs four times in Wells's narrative (see pp. 76, 84, 85, and 90). Given the situation Wells was dealing with, this may have been inevitable, but it might be a covert reference to what is after all Adam Smith's most famous phrase. That Wells was familiar with Smith is evident from the fact that he mentions him in his A Modern Utopia (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1905), p. 85. The only critic I have found who mentions Smith in connection with The Invisible Man is Frank McConnell, The Science Fiction of H.G. Wells (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981), p. 114, but he is simply making a general point about the nineteenth-century novel "as capitalist fable." A precedent for using invisibility to symbolize the power of capitalism can be found in Richard Wagner's opera Das Rheingold. There the villain Alberich uses the magic of the Tarn-helm to make himself invisible and tyrannize over his fellow dwarves in Nibelheim, forcing them to amass treasure for him. Alberich thus becomes a symbol of the capitalist boss enslaving and exploiting the working class. That this interpretation of Wagner was circulating in Wells's England is evident from George Bernard Shaw's The Perfect Wagnerite, first published in 1898. [...]
[80] See Norman and Jeanne MacKenzie, Life, Illustration 12 (discussed on p. 63), for a remarkable cartoon Wells drew when he was twenty of himself "meditating on his future," which includes placards proclaiming: "How I Could Save The Nation" and "Wells's Design for a New Framework for Society."
[81] I analyze these developments in the specific case of Oscar Wilde in "Man of Soul," pp. 74–93. For the connection between Wilde and Wells, see McConnell, Science Fiction, pp. 42–43.
[82] See Haynes, Wells, p. 83. That is why Wells defines his samurai in A Modern Utopia as an order of "voluntary noblemen" (p. 121). Wells stresses the openness of his aristocratic order, and yet eventually he comes around to admitting that the samurai will become "something of a hereditary class" (p. 299). This is just one more sign that Wells's socialism would take us out of capitalism only to return us to medieval conditions.
[83] On Nietzsche and Wells, see Sutherland's "Introduction" in Luke, ed., Invisible Man, p. xxv, Carey, Intellectuals, p. 140, Bergonzi, Wells, pp. 9–12, 153, Vallentin, Wells, p. 124, John Reed, The Natural History of H.G. Wells (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1982), pp. 238–39, and John Batchelor, H.G. Wells (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1985), p. 5. In In the Days of the Comet, Wells's narrator, who in many respects is an autobiographical figure, proclaims: "I'm a disciple of Nietzsche" (Seven Science Fiction Novels of H.G. Wells [New York: Dover, 1934], p. 909; bk. I, chap. 4, sec. 4).
[84] Wells's attraction to supermen as leaders of the common herd often gives a fascist cast to his socialism. Although Wells opposed National Socialism as it developed in Germany, the liberal socialist George Orwell detected affinities between Wells's vision of the perfect state and Hitler's: "Much of what Wells has imagined and worked for is physically there in Nazi Germany. The order, the planning, the State encouragement of science, the steel, the concrete, the aeroplanes, are all there." See "Wells, Hitler and the World State" in George Orwell, The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell (London: Secker & Warburg, 1968), vol. 2, p. 143.

What is Unseen from Cafe Hayek by Don Boudreaux
Each American, as both consumer and producer, is connected to hundreds of millions of other persons across the nation and the globe in a web of commercial relationships so vast, intricate, and nuanced that it is impossible to trace out and quantify in detail how changes in one part of this web affect other parts of the web.
Moreover, changes within this global web of commercial relationships are incessant, with changes in consumers’ demands for imports being simply one among a gazillion changes that occur each year. […]
It bears repeating again and again: there is nothing economically special about international trade as compared to intranational trade – save, of course, for the sorry fact that politicians and rent-seeking producers find it easy to demagogue for their own greedy, narrow purposes.