Choice is the dragon of our day. It smuggles into its charcoal-smelling barrow not goblets and gilt pommels but human souls, one after another after another, enticing them there with “choices,” all of them more or less trivial, while it sits upon the hoard and snores away in its inhuman sleep.
We like that dragon. We eat the fruit of the land in season, out of season. We surf the speckled Internet for spiky games and delights, or for the sheer satiation of ennui, only a click away. We shop for schools, we demand “electives.” We shop for churches (alas that we should have to shop for churches), even shop for creeds. We will give the dragon our gold for the privilege of wider choice in how we may put our brain waves to sleep for a couple of hours a day, irritable and unaccountable as those brain waves are.
We find arranged marriages abominable. What, no choice? And after we marry, we retain a fail-safe, lest married life prove to be married life and not the predictable scripts of our own writing. We are the first people in the world who expect that our children will live far away from us and from each other. Why should anyone be subject to the geographical accident of having been raised in Bag-End, near a certain hill or beside a certain brook?
We even believe in the “freedom to choose,” a lizardly slogan that darts past the silent object of the infinitive: as if we feared that the children of our own wombs would be reptiles themselves, now come to prey upon our precious choice. We like that dragon. We like our choice ...
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Choice the Dragon
Anthony Esolen looks at tales from The Quest of the Holy Grail, written by an unknown Cistercian monk of the 12th century, and sees a dragon that still devours hoards today.
The dragon has a name; it is Choice. [ht: Mary Victrix]