Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Cynicisms Awl

Do you know what an awl is? it is a pointed tool for marking surfaces or piercing small holes, but it is long and thin and sharp and persistent.

As a reaction to my own cynicism there is a side of me that is hopelessly idealistic and always reaching for something better, more noble or truthful or real. I see it most times ahead of me like a brass ring, but once I get closer and closer and put my hand out to reach for it, it pops like a soap bubble. Left in its place is nothing.

The same nothing that I knew before, the same nothing that I found the last time I reached up for a brass ring.

Lately, after the Physical Anthropology conference, I have just been feeling down about the research in my field-to-be. Most of it never amounts to anything I am sure and some of it is only important to Anthropologists and will never ever even tap on the shoulder of the common person. Then what is the point exactly?

I thought of how primate conservation is important because, if nothing else, you are helping to save a species. But why do we care about primates more than we care about lizards? Because we are primates, because learning about their genes and behavior can give us clues to ourselves, its about us again. Why do we care about finding fossils of ancient hominids? Because it is deeply exciting and satisfying to know where we came from.

My cynicism is so relentless that whatever I do, no matter how far I run, it will always come knocking at my door. In a dirty dark cloak pressuring me to question every movement I make and others make into oblivion, until it is all a meaningless pulp.

But, so far I have not learned anything from reaching and not grasping. I have not learned to expect the ring to disappear, or that the awl is strong and persistent and ubiquitous. I just keep trying, each time with the naiveté of a child and the ignorant enthusiasm of a fool. Thats all I can do, really.

1 comment:

  1. I feel the same way about some of the Anthro research that is out there but I just have to keep reminding myself that even if most of the world doesn't care, that at least there is one person amongst the 6 billion people on this planet that do care and, for that one person, this is their raison d'etre and it makes complete sense only to them.