An Urgent Need

Alexander_The_Great_and_Diogenes

Diogenes meets Alexander the Great

A great poet is always timely. A great philosopher is an urgent need.
— Tom Stoppard, Arcadia

In 1961, the philosopher Erich Fromm discussed ‘mobile truth.’  In his Afterward to George Orwell’s 1984, he proposed a fictional employee, who works for a large corporation, which claims that its product is better than any other.  This employee comes to believe this claim, whether or not it is justified.  It becomes his/her truth.  However, if that employee moves to a rival corporation, he/she will accept another truth, which is that this new corporation’s product is the best.  Though both beliefs can’t be possible, this new truth will be as true as the old one.  So much for cognitive dissonance.

Fromm saw this lack of objective truth as “one of the most characteristic and destructive developments of our society” as man “transforms reality more and more into something relative to his own interests and functions.”

He was prescient in his concerns.  Two generations out, America and much of the Western world no longer operate from an agreed upon set of facts, theories, or understandings.  Truth is personal and unmoored: an art form.  I paint my reality and you paint yours.  Each of us, a potential minority of one. Continue reading

Socrates Gone Mad in Southern California

Slomo at the Acropolis

‘Slomo’ at the Acropolis

Slomo is a 69 year old man who roller blades in slow motion along the boardwalk in Pacific Beach, California. He does this daily, unceasingly, and is known by nearly everyone who frequents the beach, bars or coffee shops. Many discount him as drug-addled, schizophrenic, or crazy. But he is not so easily dismissed.

For Slomo is Dr. John Kitchin, a former neurologist and psychiatrist, who abandoned his lucrative career in order to live in a studio apartment by the beach and pursue “a kind of divinity” through skating. Slomo is not crazy. He is a clear eyed, articulate, and bright man who has forsaken the lifestyle of the “typical institutionalized, educated, Western man.” Continue reading