March 07, 2011

Empty handed

My years spent (some might say wasted) in practicing karate have left me with certain prejudices in favor of minimalism. I think it's cooler to accomplish things with relatively empty hands than with a whole bunch of gear.

Of course, I realize that we (along with crows, monkeys and several other animals) are tool users and we couldn't survive in the manner to which we've become accustomed without them. Still, I think there's more honor in limping through a distance run than tooling around all day in a four wheeler.

Relying on external aids isn't the same as doing something yourself. You can bulk up with steroids or have visions with hallucinogenic drugs, but that's the chemicals, not you. Anyone can go fast in a motor vehicle or do a lot of damage with firearms, but that's only due to the machines used. It's one thing to paddle a mile on a lake in a canoe, but something else to be able to swim it, however slowly.

That's one thing I like about Beowulf. In his approaching conflict with the man eating monster Grendel, he vows to use no weapon at all. This turns out to be a good thing, since we later learn that no weapon would work against him. As he puts in in Seamus Heaney's translation:

"When it comes to fighting, I count myself
as dangerous any day as Grendel.
So it won't be a cutting edge I'll wield
to mow him down, easily as I might.
He has no idea of the arts of war,
of shield or sword-play, although he does possess
a wild strength. No weapons, therefore
for either this night: unarmed he shall face me
if face me he dares. And my the Divine Lord
in His wisdom grant the glory of victory
to whichever side He sees fit."

As Odysseus put it in Homer's epic of homecoming,

There is no greater glory for a man as long as he lives than that which he wins with his own hands and feet.

THE FEDERAL BUDGET struggle is going to heat up as the House and Senate joust over competing visions.


THE MISSING PIECE in the debate is the revenue side.

DEGREES ALONE won't get us to a more equitable society, according to this column by Krugman. It will also take union organizing.



1 comment:

Hollowdweller said...

Same thing with backpacking.

I remember in the 80's having so much in my pack I had to have help getting it on.

Nowdays with the whole ultralight, minimalistic trend and gear I can hike twice as far with far more comfort!