- Antonio Gramsci's observation that we must acknowledge "pessimism of the intellect," while continuing to affirm "optimism of the will," has always struck me as pretty good advice. It is advice that is particularly appealing to someone like me, who never fails to assert that "anything is possible" (within our human world, at least).
- The "intellect" side of Gramsci's dichotomy is always associated with those who observe. By definition, an observer sees what is happening, and is detached from the reality upon which the observer reports. The optimistic side of Gramsci's dichotomy is associated with those who take action, as opposed to those who simply observe. We are not only observers, of course, though observation is always more comfortbale than action. We have the ability, always, to act, and to do something unexpected, and action represents nothing other than an assertion of our "will."
- The laws governing the World of Nature describe inevitabilities (which is why we have every right to be discouraged as we read The Times' article). Our own behavior, however, is not subject to any determinism. Not only can we "act," but action can always be a "surprise." We can even suprise ourselves, and our surprising actions can create realities that have never been seen or dreamed of before.
Let us all start thinking about how we can "surprise ourselves" now.