451. The clinging (IX)
Updated: Dec 13, 2021
Imagine a man who crafts wooden furniture in his garage; he is not merely good, he is a master—a craftsman. More than this, he is obsessed with his work: the only thing that matters to him is his work; he works all day on his various projects—and sometimes he works deep into the night. He pays little regard to his health, barely washes, and consumes a liquid diet. The house around him has gone to wrack and ruin, in the guest bedroom rain seeps in. He has occasional bursts where he stops his work, socialises with friends, takes a woman and then—after a week in total revel—he returns to the work; the woman is turned out-of-doors, perhaps naked.
He commands a good price for the furniture and is, in fact, a wealthy man—although nobody would know it; he only really spends his money on his occasional blowouts, and on new tools for his workshop. He is most happy at work; his work completely absorbs him—it is, effectively, his only purpose in life. His is so absorbed in his workshop-garage that wood curls and shavings build up; he never pauses to remove them—the pile grows higher and higher. The shavings grow so high that they are at waist height, you have to wade through them to reach the workbench. One day, a spark falls from the workbench and ignites the shavings; the fire spreads quickly and the workshop burns—the craftsman is burned to death with his last creations.
It is all too common to regard entropy as negative—although, as a term, it has no moral significance. Broadly, it is associated with the left; some say the left is entropy within a political system; personally, I think the left causes entropy. However, as the craftsman shows, entropy can just be the evidence that work—extremely high-value work—has been undertaken; in a sense, an extreme and limited order has been created at the expense of being surrounded by chaos. No wood shavings, no great furniture.
Hence it is not a surprise to find that countries like America and Britain—the preeminent industrialised countries, America the preeminent country in the world—feature vast bureaucracies and highly active leftist groups; from a certain perspective, this is the entropy from the productive core—no country is more productive than America, features more genuine innovation, and yet she also features the most extravagant left. Creative artists, such as Roman Polanski and Philip K. Dick, often live amongst utter chaos; as with the craftsman, they are only responsible about their work—everything else goes to the wall. Dick actually spoke about “the kipple”, a tendency for junk to accumulate from nowhere about a place—eventually kipple will choke the universe; given his highly chaotic life, dogged by amphetamines and schizophrenia, “kipple” accumulated around PKD.
So chaos can be a sign that great creativity and production are under way; similarly, peculiar shapes in the sawdust might serendipitously throw up novel designs for the master craftsman—chaos is not all bad, it is where we find novel inspiration; and so we would expect highly successful people to feed off the chaos they create through their single-mindedness. Entropy is not all, so to speak, “bad”. The left induces “negative entropy”—a workshop that burns down—through its limited responsibility; it only takes responsibility for the project it works on and lets everything else go to Hell.
Yet we can imagine a responsible craftsman who hired a man to clean out the garage for him once a week, and so lived to a ripe old age; and this scenario would be the ideal one in politics—the scenario that still eludes us. This is why the left is not entirely characterised by failure, stupidity, or incompetence; the left is good at what it does, except only in a limited sphere; and it is related to that very Western concept, the Faustian genius who sacrifices all to achieve perfection.