Eric, m'man, you got the spirit. If it ain't broke, fix it. Build the
bridge while you're crossing it. Leap before you look (I said that in
A planned web page, to paraphrase Hemingway, ain't no damn good. The world
is full of people who plan things to ensure certainty (a futile quest but
comforting to many folk). In reality, of course, plans are the stuff of
argument, not what people really end up doing. We put forth plans to
convince the faint of heart and the congenitally nervous.
People who actually do things don't do plans. They do something else that
spins forth from complex levels within them. They "know" what's right
without having to cut and slice up an imaginary future and present it on a
tray. The "plans" they put forth for public consumption are like highway
billboards for what they would have done anyway, almost unconsciously.
Of course they make a lot of mistakes, and, joyfully, such people tend to
shrug at failure, allowing disappointment no dominion. They have this
feeling, this really strong feeling, almost impossible to articulate, that
mistakes are the friendly seeds of eventual success.
Bureaucrats writhe at such a concept. Unlike us, they are terrified at the
prospect of the future, wanting to fix the future into some kind of cattle
chute. We, I think, feel we can handle whatever comes down the pike.
There's an element of real heroism in what people on rhetnet and acw and
kairos do. We all spit on John Wayne, of course, but I've almost
accidently seen a few of his movies on cable recently, and he never ever
had a plan. Our kinds of heroes, like Kevin Costner and Tom Cruise and
Robert Deniro and Al Pacino -- they always have plans, and we can see it in
their intelligent eyes, and glory in how their plans play out to their
But old John, he just did what he knew was right, slouching through to
victory. His persona was silly and his politics foolish, but he had an
intuitive understanding of what gets things done, at least in America.
And that is confidence and courage, both of which English majors lack in
spades. We harangue ourselves to death, splashing about in words and
abstractions, trying to pump up our spirits to actually doing something,
while others are simply making things happen.
Bogey, an alter-ego preferable to big John, was no good at being noble, at
least in the Victor Lazlo sense, but he had an action-ethic equal to the
nobler guys, and somehow -- and "somehow" is the key -- made good things
I would like to see people in our field not worry so much about certainty,
or silly measures of proof and accountability. "Proof" is just another way
that people who control the criteria of "proof" have of asserting their
authority and, usually, sustaining the status quo. The people who really
change things ignore the prevailing idea of proof, or the prevailing idea
of accomplishment, and go out and do what they know is valuable activity.
I don't understand why people don't try exciting things more, especially
intelligent and educated people. They act as if they have something to
lose. They only thing academics have to lose is a culture that does not
value them. We spend so much time protecting a status quo that really
doesn't like us. We are weird.