Two Cultures, Revisited

One of the most influential books of the late ’50s and ’60s was a book called The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution by British scientist and novelist C. P. Snow.

It basically lamented the lack of communication between the “two cultures” – Science and Humanities.

I see the same split continuing today.

On the one hand we have the Internet and a Communication Revolution more powerful in its global impact than the “Industrial Revolution” of the 19th century.

We are busy like bumblebees configuring our smart phones and wi-fi networks, setting up our web sites, and leaving behind us as many electronic breadcrumbs as we can.

Making more money tomorrow than we did yesterday is a dream we all share and think possible – hopefully through keeping up with the techno avalanche.

Guilty as charged here… Once I even sat down and started to teach myself how to program in Java – not the humble Javascript but THE Java, that mother of all Object Oriented Programming Languages. (But three months into the project, the learning curve got so steep that I quit. I could be separated from my novels, magazines, movies, concerts, and TV shows for only so long.)

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On the other end of the Science-Humanities spectrum, there are those Aesthetic Warriors who spend many lonely nights in front of their lap tops, trying to nail down that ground-breaking Novel, Poem or Screenplay.

The fellow students in all the writing seminars I took in the past… I remember all of you fondly for sharing my perilous journey into an artistic future unknown at considerable financial risk to myself and my family.

No matter which side of the divide I opted for, I’ve felt a sense of loss; a sense that I was perhaps missing something that I shouldn’t have.

What did it matter to have the cultural depth to enjoy Antonioni’s Trilogy if I did not have the money to add a new room to our house, a room that we needed so badly?

And what did it matter if I were making good money selling “information products” on ClickBank and had affiliates lined up from here to San Diego if I never had the time to listen to Andre Watts play Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 2, or bury myself into a Scott Fitzgerald novel over a weekend?

I still have not completely resolved the tension between these two halves of my inner landscape.

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On the one hand, I’m as excited as anybody else with every new gadget I see and with every new hi-tech platform promising a more connected life and higher income.

But after a while, when I find myself spending all my days and nights learning one techno trick after another to squeeze a few more precious dollars out of Google’s stingy claws, I stop and ask what I’m doing with my life.

So I go back to the “other country” which is very familiar to me with all its breathtaking mountains and infinite skies.

Until, that is, science and technology call me back, to examine, learn and marvel at the non-stop advances, new toys, and possibilities never dreamt before.

And so it goes this endless tennis match between the two halves of my mind.

I don’t think I’m close to a resolution any time soon. There are no winners in sight. But, hey, “hope springs eternal.” And I believe it wasn’t a Java programmer who said that.

 

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