Oh, you can't help that.

24 February 2013

When I went for dinner, I encountered someone slipping into madness. He was polite and pleasant, but going mad.

He was fixated upon improving the world globally. I don't know whether he were going mad because he wanted somehow to improve the world globally, or were obsessively focussed upon improving the world globally because he was going mad; my guess would be that the aspiration and the madness were each feeding upon the other. In any case, he was writing and drawing chaotically with bright marker on loose sheets of paper, and trying to engage random people in his efforts to figure-out How to Save the World. I was a random person.

I sometimes talk to madmen. No less or more comes out of my conversations with them than those with most other people. In this case, I wasn't much occupied at the time with anything else but eating.

He found talking with me to be discouraging. It's not that I don't think that the world might be saved, or that I might do something towards that end. It's that I think that most people, mad or otherwise and including him, fundamentally misconceive the nature of the problem and the potential methods of solution. The Good isn't subject to arithmetic; concern for others is no guarantee against actions that produce horrific outcomes; the meek are capable of over-estimating what can typically be done and thence what they can do; and any attempt to call a convention of the best-and-brightest in each field would attract a different sort (or none at all).

He took his madness to a different table.

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