Monday, November 28, 2005

Coherent Absurdity

Ralph Luker (thanks for the link, Ralph!) is responsible for sending me to the best quote I've seen in days:
"What kind of liberation would that be to forsake an absurdity which is logical and coherent and to embrace one which is illogical and incoherent?" -- James Joyce, Portrait of the artist as a young man
Actually, it's the punch line (of sorts) of an Umberto Eco column in which he cites lots of very smart people on the inherent difficulty of having faith without feeling like an idiot. To be fair, not having faith doesn't actually solve the problem of feeling like an idiot; actually, you have a much broader field of idiocy to work in, and you can be much more creative.

But... Joyce is wrong, and Eco is wrong, to prefer coherent absurdity to illogical incoherence. Don't get me wrong, I'm no anti-rationalist, not much of a post-modernist, and I like things to make sense. But the world doesn't. And there has yet to be a religious system that didn't have a huge dose of tribalism and revelatory supremacy. Agnosticism makes sense; understanding the world requires flexibility about rules and systems. God has a sense of humor, as well as a sense of justice.

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