“Annihilate not Mercies of God by the Oblivion of Ingratitude.” — Sir Thomas Browne
If the truth of which I am about to teach has not been proclaimed very forcefully in these here Amblers, then I have done my readers a great disservice. But there is a fundamental truth which has themed many of these posts. There is a sure-fire way of knowing whether any action these days ought to be done, and it is to observe modern humanity and rhetorically ask yourself “would my modern brethren do this?” I hold an individual should seek to be as little modern as he possibly can be. That is, when a modern runs around moralizing about a thing, that is an obvious case in which the thing is permissible. When moderns all huddle together and declare the eating of red meat a sin because cows are sacred, we know that the eating of red meat is a virtue because cows are sacred. When a modern chastises a man for referring to people as “men,” we know that the very thing we ought to do is refer to people as men. For as I have said before in one of these ramblings, the modern Atheist is only the modern compromiser. The modern Atheist wants to be free while keeping restrictions. He wants no moral accountability for the vices he wishes to indulge in; he wants to be all-powerful to scream at men who indulge in his imaginary vices he’s created.
And the modern Atheist is a walking contradiction because he preaches freedom, yet his freedom is the most fettering of all things. Free love keeps a man from the freedom of marriage. Really all “freedom” is to a modern Atheist is a freedom to do what every other morbid modern does; it is a freedom to fall in line. Take for instance the trifling example of the Freeway. There is nothing more restricting to Freedom than the wide-laned, toll-free, high-speed Free-way. The Freeway masks itself as the most efficient of routes; it is only efficient because it is altogether restricting. For this reason, I have altogether done away with traveling by that horrid means that every other modern uses. I am restricted to slower speeds and constant interruptions in my travels, but my travels are closer to adventure than any ten men can have on a Freeway.
This past summer I took a trip to the great mountainous city of Denver, and on the way took a small detour. Never mind that my car broke down in some random town in Kansas. Never mind that the people of that town are anything but great, so tarnishing its namesake. Never mind that the people of that town refuse to lend their services if you enter their establishments and begin with the words, “Hullo! I’m just driving through and –” For at once all those people in that wretched establishment turn up their noses to the weary traveler and proclaim that they surely cannot help, you must try someone else down the street. Never mind all this. Mind that I did not break down on some Freeway, cold and alone.
It was after this trip, in which I braved the lonely highways of eastern Colorado that I decided I would do away with the Freeway because the common highway allows a man more freedom in his travels. Let me explain. First, the common highway restricts a man to slower speeds, and slower speeds allow a man to not fly past the scenery of creation as if it is merely a means to an end. Take for example the state of Iowa. My summer trip to Iowa consisted in taking U.S. Highway 34. Now, Iowa is known for many things, but what one does not realize unless they leave the Freeway is that Iowa has some of the slowest speeds known to man. But I say, if I was flying through the state at some ungodly speed, I would certainly have missed many a green and gold field. When the summer sun sinks so slowly over these cornfields, the light glimmers off the tops, creating a wondrous glow. Man cannot notice this from the Freeway because the Freeway keeps him too far from the fields. That is, the common highway is much closer to nature, and though it took me over two hours to get out of that state, I remained in a better one. I remained in that state of giddy worship at God’s creation, and I pretended at any moment random children could rush out from the tunnel of corn I was driving through.
Now, another thing that occurred on that trip and has since occurred on others, is the true detour. I am not talking about your own detour you create when you map out your route (which by the way should never be done on that God-forsaken GPS!). I am talking about the instance that inevitably occurs on these trips after you think that you have mapped out a perfect trip. And this is the roadwork. Roadwork on a Freeway only slows you down, making you cranky. Roadwork on a common highway sends you in an entirely new direction and forces you to use geography (that lost art). Now, as I was ambling my way west on U.S. 34, it so happened that my way was blocked, forcing me to take a southerly route on some county highway with slower speeds and worse roads. But the beauty of this is that it was altogether unexpected, and my way led me to Waubonsie State Park. Rare are the moments in life when a modern man is surprised at what he finds on his trip, and I will never forget the moment when I left the wooded road of that state park and saw unending fields of corn covered by ominous looking clouds, portending some future disaster.
My detour on this trip also reminds me of another great aspect of traveling by the common highway. And that is the freedom to get lost. No man, no matter how poor a navigator, can get lost on the Freeway. But a common man on the common highway who denounces Surrey and all her evils, runs the risk of getting completely lost, and this is altogether beautiful. Maps are glorious things, and it is a shame that men don’t use them any more. In fact, the fact that modern men don’t use maps is enough reason for using a map. I would almost recommend taking a route that purposefully leads you some place you have never been, so that you are forced to use a map.
Now, an objection may occur in that these routes are full of slow drivers whom you have to constantly pass, which is altogether dangerous. An easy solution here is to make sure you are the slowest car on the road. But I think also that because the modern man is so set on not having adventures, he rarely takes these highways unless he has to. Thus, few people actually travel on the common highway, and, unless this post has some effect, few will do so in the future. The common highway is great because, like common sense, it is not common. But moreover, the common highway is great because of the random towns you have to drive through. It is great because you can eat at random cafes and hear the locals yakking about. You can eat your dinner, as I did in little McClouth, Kansas, and take comfort in the fact that you are not eating at some globalized commercial business that most moderns dine at. In all this, you can revel in your freedom to not fall in line with the rest of mankind on the Freeways. You can finally have freedom to slow down and enjoy the created world as it was meant to be enjoyed– as a life mapped out but accepting of the chaos and detours that alter its direction.
Sam Snow, theficklefarce.com
Written by typewriter,
14 December 2014
Transcribed by Adam the Scribe II
At Kansas State University,
16 December 2014
Painting: “Mountain Highwaymen Ambushing a Coach”
By British School,
Oil on canvas, 1900