"A Space In The Mind Day"
a most balanced literary man, could not actually decide why Rome
declined. Amongst the many reasons he offered was a change in the
nature of citizenship, compounded by a rise in a political class that had
as its hallmark a short-sightedness. This short-sightedness arose
from an assumption that Rome was not only 'The Greatest', it was also 'Inevitably
Great' and 'Eternally Great'. Gibbon might have attributed the
fall to a political class that perceived power as an end unto itself,
rather than attributing it so euphemistically to the single, unhelpful
After the long slow process that was
Rome, "The Eternal City" became an idea of a future place.
Thomas Aquinas could claim nations and princes will rise and fall, and
conceptually it was much better to have the perfect place somewhere other
than on earth, then promise it to correct souls.
Within the idea of fall is the enemy beyond, the unknown, that object
which incurs a strengthening of citizenship around solidarity of
nation. But what are the necessary dimension in securing nationhood?
Men on the moon and on to mars, perhaps. A victorious army.
The assassination of a President, even. A winning team. A
Godly Land. Material definitions of purpose that Clausewitz would
recognize as belonging to an endlessness best directed toward a single and
not necessarily defined end by well drilled men in suitable outfits.
And here, for the sake of brevity and with due deference to the great
thinkers, their scholarship and attention to detail, I will hesitate only
briefly before calling this endlessness "A Space In The
Some might argue that this space in the
mind cannot be filled with mortar and then spackled over to conceal it
altogether. Others will suggest this space in the mind has a preexistence
and that we are driven by it to search, endlessly. Others will insist
that it is constructed place and receptive to education, training and
discipline. Most will say that left to its own devices this space
produces idleness, anarchy, chaos and what might be called 'unhappiness' in
the city we are.
Existentialists would like this place to
be given freedom to roam. Their opposite, fearful of angst perhaps,
would like this place to be disciplined by a predetermined purpose informed
by what might be called 'wisdom'. The more dangerous to sanity are
those who would have this predetermined discipline ordained by the authority
of a higher and always distant power, who communicates with only a
suspicious few of us. I have wandered months without bathing and still
he has not spoken to me.
The idea of "The Eternal City"
belonging to shelter, food and the occasional good conversation, is
apparently mystifying. We are called simplistic and idle, cynical and
without ambition, unworldly and uncommitted by those who find purpose in
telling others how to be.
Yet sometimes it appears our rewards are
envied by the obedient upon whom the burdens of endlessness continue to
fall. These will then ingeniously suggest that but for their struggle
my world would no longer have television, justice systems, factories or Doppler
Radar. Instead I would live a short life of brutality and ignorance,
and probably I would end my days in the belly of a very large cat.
However, "A Space In the
Mind" should not be confused with a "Hole In The Head".
Which in my view was ultimately Gibbons rationalist argument in his