Praise of Lassitude
by Richard L. Howey, Wyoming, USA
Lassitude, weariness, lethargy, listlessness, languor, debility, fatigue, torpor, apathy idleness, and the mental state of Micscape readers who avidly consume the articles month after month without contributing anything of their own–not even a short book review,a note on something they have observed, a little micro-technique trick,a request for help in solving a problem in methodology or identifying an organism or an image of a slide they particularly like, let alone contributing an article. Any such contributions would be welcome whether you are 9 or 90. I went to the July 2018 issue of Micscape to discover that there were not enough contributions to construct a new issue. I must admit I was dismayed until I did a reality check. I realized that June, July, and August are, in most parts of the world, months when people go out to lie on shady beaches and get a bronze tan and skin cancer, when people plunge into the ocean delighting in and sporting on the surface oblivious to the circling sharks or the drifting sea wasps, when people seeking relief from the heat climb alpine peaks defying possible avalanches, rock slides, and unstable cliffs, when people go to national parks and try to pose for photographs with bears, moose and elk and risk severe injury, or on another continent when they try to pose with lions, elephants, hyenas, giraffe, hippos, or crocodiles and end up battered and bruised or as a tasty morsel. Yes, Im being old and cranky, I tend to forget all of those wonderful diversions.
And while one is having all of these fascinating experiences, you must, of course, keep your Facebook; Twitter, Natter, and iDID friends and followers informed of your exploits with emails to your closest and cyber-dearest compatriots. Also you can create a visual record using your smart phone camera and store the images or video clips in “the cloud”. And, who can help at this point, plunging back over 2,000 years into the brilliant, sardonic, ironic comedy of Aristophanes? Well, you can. After all who has time to read obscure old Greeks when we have the wisdom of the world at our fingertips through the Internet? Actually, Aristophanes’ perspectives are quite insightful and clever. His target in the play “The Clouds” is Socrates who is supposed to be the wisest of all men and claims that his wisdom consists in recognition of his ignorance, and that, in truth, he knows nothing. And we should certainly be able to empathize with that. As a consequence, he wrote nothing and yet over 2,000 years, he is still remembered–isn’t that odd! Perhaps that is why you don’t write articles or notes as contributions to Micscape. However, Socrates did talk a lot, but not impersonally on Facebook or Twitter, but with real, individual, human beings. He asked questions incessantly, trying to provoke his listeners into thinking. He very rarely even attempted to provide an answer; instead he stimulated, provoked, irritated, challenged and generally annoyed those around him. His student, Plato, documents many of these exchanges and thus Socrates still influences thinkers and questioners but, how many of you have a Plato to record your observations, insights, questions, and doubts? “Don’t need that,” you say. “I’ve got 837412 followers.” Unfortunately, the Internet’s social media sites are vast, impersonal, and constantly demanding to be fed, like Audrey II, the giant carnivorous plant in The Little Shop of Horrors. Over the centuries, Socrates has been both revered and reviled, and he certainly has his contemporaneous critics of which Aristophanes was one. He presents Socrates as a Sophist and caricatures him as being suspended in a basket near the ceiling in an edifice called the Thinking Factory or the Thinkery. Socrates is so situated in order to look down and have a proper perspective on the goings-on of ordinary mortals and to be close to the gods. And now, in this high-tech age we have all these individuals suspended in their individual electronic baskets, who can enter the realm of Micscape without having to pay a single obol, farthing, nickel, or rupee.
The Internet has, unfortunately, all too often, made us greedy, selfish, and passive to such an extent that we forget that the whole idea of such an extraordinary form of communication should be about sharing and creating; the passivity is an unfortunate side-effect. “Go, thou lazy sluggard and write something for Micscape!–This is from Holy Bible, Patheticus 7, 14. So, write and send it off to Dave Walker and earn some cosmic credit coupons to upgrade your divine accommodations.
Perhaps you come across a photograph of a weird insect on PINTREST which you find of interest. So, look it up and write a few paragraphs about it and tell us why you found it interesting. Share it with us; don’t be selfish and keep it to yourself.
Or, maybe, you were out walking and came across a lovely wildflower you hadn’t seen before and weren’t able to identify. So, using your camera in your phone, you took some pictures. Well, pick out the best ones and, describe wherefore you found them and the general character of the habitat and send it off to Micscape. The chances are good that some other reader will recognize it from your pictures and be able to identify it for you. And, of course, it doesn’t have to be a flower; it could be picture of an animal track, an animal, a rock, a mushroom–whatever you encounter–the interests and expertise of Micscape contributors are extremely wide and varied. Another great plus about letting people know of your particular interest is that you may find fellow enthusiasts who would very much like to share information and insights. Such sharing could be the beginning of a rewarding e-friendship.
All comments to the author Richard Howey are welcomed.
Editor's note: Visit Richard Howey's new website at http://rhowey.googlepages.com/home where he plans to share aspects of his wide interests.
Published in the October 2018 edition of Micscape Magazine.
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