January 06, 2004
It was at the end of my first year of travelling, 8 months in Australia followed by 3 months in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Japan. I was in Los Angeles, my staging ground for entering North America on the way to Vancouver, spending a week or so in Santa Monica. There was something both comforting and vapid about walking Santa Monica's 3rd street promenade with its upscale shops and bars, with upscale tourists and locals promenading past street entertainers and the homeless hoping for some of the former's disposable income. It was rich and beautiful, poor and sad all rolled into a microcosm of the culture I was re-entering. (A couple years later, I would be there again, and while dining on take-out Thai would think of the Genesis song, The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging). At the hostel, travellers from all around the world sat unblinking in the TV room, watching the day's popular sit-coms and hardly breaking a grin.
From: "Gerald Karam"
Sent: Thursday, March 13, 1997 10:20 PM
> I share your feelings about the difficulties of seeing the world from
> Chomsky's perspective. Nature is disinterested if not downright cruel
> and mankind is a part of nature. Doesn't the old testament say something
> about too much knowledge bringing much sorrow. I'm resigned to the real
> state of affairs, and I can't figure out where Chomsky gets the optimism
> to passionately fight for something better. Maybe Chomsky and others
> have left me incurably depressed. Knowing that there are sensitive
> people like you lightens the load though. Thanks for your insights. gk
From: "patrick jennings"
To: "Gerald Karam"
Sent: Sunday, March 16, 1997 6:46 PM
Subject: Re: Chomsky
Gerald, that was a thoughtful and inspirational piece of mail. Thanks so much.
Just yesterday with a new friend driving up to Vancouver in her car we were talking about the burden of knowledge. She came up with the obvious observation of the tree of knowledge, the serpent, and mankind being cast from the garden of Eden. A powerful metaphor.
As for Chomsky finding optimism, I can't speak for him. Perhaps once we recognize the burden of knowledge it's impossible to flee back to ignorance. Caught in our knowledge we have a choice: to do nothing and let that burden fall on others--perhaps innocents--or to take up responsibility and act, despite the odds. For me, looking in the mirror is much easier after taking the second choice. The other fork leads to despair.
Thanks for taking the time to share yourself.