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Slow train coming

  The space is pervaded with green, with the chirping of birds and the sweet smell of pollen. We are in the countryside of Dordogne, and it would be difficult for anyone to find a more idyllic setting. In general, I try not to read the news, especially here, but whenever I do, that idyllic image is replaced by another one: the slow train, picking up speed downhill. The machine engineers are incompetent and instead of stopping it and repairing the faults with care, they keep on loading it with coal. Its lights are on in the darkness; they illuminate only the small patch in front, so the passengers could see the end, but only in a fashion.  Why are we in a such a hurry to destroy our civilisation? Do we have so much that we are bored with it? There was this boredom in the air before the epidemic in 2020. I had the feeling that people, especially the young ones, were waiting eagerly for something to happen. Anything. Just not that day after day boredom. They were trying to shake it off –

A Story about Aunt Mary, Uncle Pete and the Dragon of Conceit

‘Do you remember me mixing honey and butter for you, when you were little?’- I asked my daughter at breakfast. My mum used to do this for me when I was a child. She would mix the honey and butter together until they become one smooth, creamy-golden mixture that had a unique taste. Somehow I always had it in my mind entwined with the fairy story of the kingdom in which honey and butter poured out of golden taps in abundance.
‘I have always known that’, my daughter said slightly surprised. She genuinely couldn’t remember.
I wasn’t exactly hurt but this made me quite thoughtful. It seems that many people now think that knowledge is in the air; it doesn’t belong to anybody; we just absorb it. Perhaps it comes from the availability of knowledge on the Internet or even from the already digested information around us that we absorb without even noticing. You want to cook a delicious meal - you browse the internet and get the recipe. No need to stand the meaningless babble of Aunty Mary, who cooks the best apple pie in town, so you can learn her magic; no need to have hours of awkward conversations with Uncle Pete so you can get his secret of playing that guitar chord. This is all good. The question is: can we receive anything without giving something back and aren’t we going to end up piling up an enormous arrogance and self-conceit. Perhaps we would remember that the information in the computers is the one that has been mounted up throughout the centuries by Aunty Merry and Uncle Pete but most likely will not. Most likely we will assume that everything we learn pours from the golden taps of abundance, i.e. ourselves. That’s OK as long as the good times last.
In the story from my childhood, the taps dry up and the hero has to fight the evil dragon and steel the key to the gates of knowledge. Or at least that’s how I remember it. I think the name of the dragon was Conceit.


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