Toomas (Tom) Karmo: literary: love of the world
Worldly? But "God So Loved the World"
Nobody wants to be worldly. But we all want to do
good things for our world. Here are some conceivable lines
We can promote the health of our physical environment:
For six decades, from the 1930s onward, Helen and Scott
Nearing pioneered a self-sufficient lifestyle in Vermont
and Maine. They found that by adopting a vegetarian diet
and minimizing the use of machine tools, they could live close
to nature, and yet at a high level of civilization. They
built in stone (not wood), eschewing carpets,
curtains, and central heating, but putting up imposing
bookcases and fireplaces.
managed for many years without any electricity at all and
did much of their work with hand tools. (There was, though,
at least one motor vehicle, capable of carrying loads - perhaps
a jeep or small truck.) They performed
manual work only four hours a day, leaving the rest of their
time free for activities like writing. Part of their secret
in time management
lay in respect for order and system. Another part of their
secret lay in respect for tools. (They did not apply
inappropriate technologies. Those tools which they did
possess they cared for: spades, for example, were oiled.)
For more on this approach to the material side of
life, see Helen and Scott Nearing,
The Good Life : Helen and Scott Nearing's Sixty
Years of Self-Sufficient Living
(New York : Schocken Books, c1989).
of the Nearings (who were not in religious life, and indeed
seem to have been rather determinedly secular), a
Nearing-like approach to rural life has been developed by
the Madonna House community at Combermere in Ontario.
We can promote the health of our intellectual environment:
We can ignore most of television and the daily press.
(A good substitute for the daily press is The Economist,
a weekly which covers not only politics and the world
economy, but to some extent also science and literature.
A good substitute for television is the BBC World Service -
still available on shortwave, but nowadays more conveniently
treated as a print publication, continually
updated on the Web at
We can ignore the low-quality bloatware tradition of
conventional computing, and instead use Linux or some
other flavour of Unix. A few suggestions for getting started
with Unix are available at this present writer's Unix
pages. (Follow the link to
technical pages from the main portal,
http://www.interlog.com/~verbum/.) Within Unix, we
can, further, avoid the unnecessary refinements of word
processors. This strategy involves
eschewing Unix "office suites"
in favour of the old ASCII
editors vi and emacs. (Where exquisite typesetting is really
needed, we can get it with TeX. But for the most part, flat
ASCII works fine, and has the advantage of emphasizing
substance over appearance.)
Finally, we can promote the use
of SGML (the technology within which, as an application,
the CERN physicists developed the HTML-powered Web) and XML.