The best paragraph I read today

Singing together, working together against tangible adversaries, melds us into one whole: we become members of the community, embedded in place.  By contrast, thinking–especially thinking of the reflective, ironic, quizzical mode, which is a luxury of affluent societies–threatens to isolate us from our immediate group and home.  As vulnerable beings who yearn at times for total immersion, to sing in unison (eyes closed) with others of our kind, this sense of isolation–of being a unique individual–can be felt as a deep loss.  Thinking, however, yields a twofold gain: although it isolates us from our immediate group it can link us both seriously and playfully to the cosmos–to strangers in other places and times; and it enables us to accept a human condition that we have always been tempted by fear and anxiety to deny, namely, the impermanence of our state wherever we are, our ultimate homelessness.  A cosmopolite is one who considers the gain greater than the loss.  Having seen something of the splendid spaces, he or she (like Mole [in The Wind in the Willows]) will not want to return, permanently, to the ambiguous safeness of the hearth.

That is by Yi-Fu Tuan, discussed by Virginia Postrel.


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