This link, via ALD, arrives at a remarkable juncture. Last month a friend of ours — a contemporary — died of cancer. He claimed he was ready, and certainly embodied that trait. When I mull over his final days and compare them with my present, I suspect there have been times when I was more “ready” than I am now. If I were to qualify my current existence I might say I am maintaining an uneasy stasis — an illusion masquerading as perspective, of course, but the necessary steps beyond it are not altogether obvious to me.
Not long ago I listened to an old CBC interview with Ivan Illich, who provoked an audience of theologians by opening his lecture with, “To Hell with Life!” Illich was responding in large part to the emerging Gaia movement. Gaia and its offshoots foster an inchoate pantheism, which, perhaps to my peril, I don't find nearly as dismaying as Illich seems to. I haven't read any Illich, so I only have this rudimentary sense of where he's going with his assertion, but I suspect he and Mark Edmundson share a similar concern.
“People now pursue a means — staying alive — as though it were an end in itself. Epic measures of energy invest a rank banality, for in truth there is no sustaining meaning to be had, no triumph to be achieved, simply in the maintenance of biological life.” I keenly await Edmundson's book, Self & Soul: The Human Dilemma. As for Illich, the interview can still be obtained here. Scroll down to Listener's Choice > “Listener's Choice - May 13, 2011 - Ideas - Life as Idol.”