A World of Speculation

The “wise” Macintosh in Spider Robinson’s The Callahan Touch has a utopian recipe for existential misery, if not species suicide.

I dream of a world where humans have so little fear, so little to fear, that fear loses its obsessive fascination for them, its addictive rush. A world without superstition and ignorance and the ever-present risk of extinction souring and spoiling sleep and making paranoia seem a sensible attitude.

What’s wrong with this “ideal society” is the same thing that’s wrong with the book: no conflict. The book is one big party, raucous laughter, misunderstandings leading to new friendships, every conflict resolved in the space of a chapter or two. Ho hum.

Human beings with no problems will create problems. If they live in safety, then fear has a greater, not a smaller, fascination for them.

Fear can either sour joy or be the dark backdrop where it shines, depending on the person’s means of dealing with it.

Traction is friction. Conflict is character in movement. Argument, practiced honestly, is indispensable to the pursuit of truth.

And paranoia can be a sensible attitude, if they are out to get you.