Episode 50 (!) of PZ’s Podcast: Human Nature

Sometimes I get so frustrated I could just scream, at the general portrait of human […]

Mockingbird / 6.13.11

Sometimes I get so frustrated I could just scream, at the general portrait of human nature that one seems to get these days on almost every front.

Whether it’s the innumerable “Commencement” speeches telling graduates to live their dreams, or the conviction stated by most of our public leaders that we can overcome our problems so that “this thing will never happen again”, you just want to stand up sometimes and do the opposite of cheer!

Is it really generally believed that we can actually solve our problems by just putting our human shoulder to the wheel? Well, yes. That is what is generally believed.

For his 50th podcast, PZ has gone for broke! Cry Havoc.

What is the nature of human nature?
We see a more realistic approach in Wylie’s epic searing tale of human bifurcation, The Disappearance.
We see a delightful Gallic twist on the theme in Jacques Demy’s lilting movie “Les Demoiselles de Rochefort” (1967).
(There is more reality in that little gem than in ten thousand press conferences.)
We go to the “seeing eye” of William Inge, the American playwright who wrote “The Dark at the Top of the Stairs” (1957).
These artists tell us more about ourselves than we are going to get from almost any current understanding — exception: David Brooks — of what it is to be a human being.

I just protest, I dissent, against the torturing shallowness of insight from the top to the bottom of our American world.

Here is where Christianity, incidentally, could make a contribution. The Bible understands about people. It knows about the paralyzed wills of actual people. It also conveys compassion for bound people, i.e., you and me.

I am afraid, however, that Christians, partly because we have shot ourselves in the foot “Law-wise” for a long time and partly because the world has a pretty vindictive attitude towards us, are not going to be able to make themselves heard on this theme.

This is why I spend time with forgotten artists. Maybe people will listen to Inge again, or Jacques Demy, or odd pundit Philip Wylie — or at least, well, Eric Burdon, or Axl Rose, or the Sternkind of “Thriller”.

I doubt it, but I’m still going to try. After all, to quote the last line of “The Time Machine” (1961), we’ve got, within the Eye of God, “all the time in the world.”

Listen to this episode here. Or, subscribe to the podcast here.



P.S. Many thanks to Sarah Cappleman for her invaluable help with the technical side of PZ’s Podcast.