Friday, 19 May 2017

The Island of Parts

Hay ordered a humongous kitchen island from Gary, our tame furniture maker. Unfortunately she ordered it a couple of months ago, before my recent redundancy notice, and it's too late to cancel it now. When it's installed we're going to have a Grand Opening, along with a neighbour's newly built pizza oven. We're thinking of calling the island Necker.

I'm about half way through re-acquainting myself with 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'. The book concerns itself with different attitudes to modern technology and how we are split into the romantics and the classicists (or analysts, as I prefer to call them).

The romantics use technology but don't bother to understand it, and as a consequence get intensely frustrated with it when it fails and they can't fix it themselves. They have a love-hate relationship with technology - they love to use it, but hate the fact they're enslaved by repair men when it goes wrong. They feel emasculated.

Analysts, on the other hand, take the trouble to understand how technology works and get a buzz out of keeping things working by doing their own preventative maintenance to stop technical objects failing in the first place.

Romantics see a single entity, whereas the analysts see many discrete, but interlocking systems, each system being comprised of individual parts that all need attention to ensure the whole operates efficiently.

The Zen part of the book deals with the romantic view, where it's the whole that counts, rather than an analysis of the parts. That said, perversely, it's the analyst who is, in Zen parlance, more 'in the moment', being in tune with all the parts and performing maintenance like a ritual. Basically, it all boils down to attitude as to whether the maintenance aspect is seen as drudgery or joy.

I think I'm more inclined to the analytical side - I want to investigate things and understand them, which sometimes bring me into conflict with Hay, who is more into gestalts, especially when I spend hours at the computer researching an issue that's bugging me. Again, that's a paradox, as she's the scientist.

I can't help but feel an analogy here on the Brexit issue - the romantics favour Brexit (although not in Hay's case) and all the Blimpishness that entails, whereas the analysts favour remaining, having taken the trouble to sift the wheat from the political chaff. However, even here there's a paradox, in that the EU is a gestalt in itself - the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, whereas the leavers are more attached to the parts, or subsystems - if a particular subsystem; their own country.

I sometimes wonder whether Brexit will eventually be the annex in someone's future book, 'The Decline and Fall of the British Empire'. Having lit the fuse of nationalism through an unshakable faith in a mythical, Arthurian past that can't be recreated, Brexit will have a job to stamp out the flames as they spread throughout the United Kingdom and bits drop off - just like the Western Roman Empire left nothing but a charred cinder in the shape of the solitary and economically ruined city of Rome, while the centre of culture and trade moved east to Constantinople to last another thousand years.

Generally speaking, and paradoxically, Leavers want the UK to stay as a Union, but what they can't seem to engage with is the fact that the Scottish Nationalist, the Welsh Nationalist and the Irish Republican is just like them. Their usual rejoinder is that the Union works - but then so too does the EU; the problems that plague the Union are exactly the same as those that plague the EU - small-minded nationalism. A slim majority of the British have gone from being Romans in control of Rome to barbarians at the gates of Brussels. Cognitive dissonance on a breathtaking scale and tantamount to saying Empire is OK, so long as we're running it.

1 comment:

  1. The EU grew out of nations wanting to members of a conglomeration. Which is very different to the Union which was foisted upon the small nations by the British Government.
    The bloody awful British Empire is dead and gone forever, get over it matey.