Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hunters and Gatherers, Hinters and Ditherers

It is one thing to express opinion, quite another to assert something as either a fact or an hypothesis that has some reasonable chance in the world.

When expressing the former, it is sufficient to use such attributions as I feel, I think, even I believe , not to forget our old pal, It seems to me. An expression of fact or an advancement of hypothesis deserves greater attribution, preferably primary source material or a number of reliable sources in agreement.

Those of us who have had anything to do with responsible journalism or with scholarly pursuit are imprinted with the need to quote sources, even to quote sources that may not entirely support the hypothesis we are advancing.

This is lengthy prologue to the admission that I sometimes cannot remember where I came by a fact or hypothesis that suits my fancy, one I wish to use in building some kind of structure of argument or invention that has some chance of supporting the weight I seek to put on it.

The lengthy prologue--prologaminousness(Try that on your spell checker. Do spell checkers work for shamans?)--continues, by which I admit to reading from so many sources that I sometimes forget if I am citing Harper's Magazine or The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, or, of late, the Virginia Quarterly Review. Or something entirely other.

Added to that dizzying equation are conversations on some weekly basis with the likes of Jerry Freedman, Brian Fagan, Steve Cook, and Barnaby Conrad, rendering my brain much like a pinata, waiting to be struck a good whack so that the goodies will come tumbling forth.

And now, many of the blogs I look at as a way of satisfying political, literary, aesthetic, and musical matters add to the jumble.

There is some comfort in knowing I am not alone in this, in the brother- and sisterhood of storing impressions and bits of information which we will use as our pre-historic forebears did, to help the cause of species survival.

One source I do remember is the editorial page of The New York Times today, an op-ed piece by the elegant and thoughtful Verlyn Klinkenborg, who posits a California of the near future in which somehow, somewhere, there are sixty million of us, scratching about as the Hunters and Gatherer Societies of the past did, coming into spirited contact with the agriculturists.

Where will these arrivestes settle once they have arrived, and what effect will they have on our politics, our art, our science? And where will we get the water to soak their golf courses, gardens, and indeed their bodies?

Ah, you think I have wandered off subject, caught up in the haze of blog euphoria. Not at all. There is a connection between the persons en route to California and those who are not yet aware they will venture forth, linked to the information I already carry around and cannot account for, linked to the facts and opinions I will surely pick up from your blog or his blog or hers. Where do we keep information? How do we use it? How do we conserve it?

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