Almost four years ago, I noted that the Wonderful World of Weblogs had been foreseen by Desiderius Erasmus in his Praise of Folly way back in 1509. There must be something in the philosophical water in northern Europe, because Erasmus was not alone in his prescience. Some 300 years later, speaking through at least two layers of pseudonymity, Søren Kierkegaard captured the workings of the political blogosphere with remarkable precision:
It happened that a fire broke out backstage in a theater. The clown came out to inform the public. They thought it was a jest and applauded. He repeated his warning, they shouted even louder. So I think the world will come to an end amid general applause from all the wits, who believe that it is a joke.
A few pages later, SK adds this sound advice, sadly never to be embraced in American public discourse:
In itself, salmon is a great delicacy: but too much of it is harmful since it taxes the digestion. At one time when a very large catch of salmon had been brought to Hamburg, the police ordered that a householder should give his servants only one meal a week of salmon. One could wish for a similar police order against sentimentality.
Quotations from S. Kierkegaard, aka Viktor Eremita, aka "A", Either/Or, Vol. 1, "Diapsalmata" (1843). Marginal drawing of Folly by Hans Holbein (detail) from Erasmus' personal copy of Praise of Folly, 1515 (Basel), via Wikimedia Commons.