Is the internet a curse or a blessing? Used carefully, it is a huge blessing. Misused it is a sad waste of life.
It is not without its dangers, especially for those, like myself, with a propensity for silence and isolation in a noisy and unsatisfactory world.
I am not talking about the pedestrian and utilitarian aspects of on-line purchasing and information. Unless you are one of the small business being crucified by Amazon et al, the sheer convenience of the internet is an unparalleled joy.
Nor am I talking about Social Media – at least not in the sense of the trashy mundanity of B List Celebs and viral Twatter posts.
I am talking about the more cerebral ramifications of this extraordinary technology and what is has done for our science, art and culture. And indeed what it has done for our minds and our search for knowledge.
Take art: visual, pictorial art. I was meaning to go to the Tate today and may go tomorrow but in the meantime I can see the exquisite beauty of Singer Sargent on the gallery’s website. I can gaze in wonder at the beauty of Ophelia .
I can do a great deal more from my Ivory Tower now that I have the telescope (or it it the microscope?) of the internet.
I have a fascination in religion and philosophy – I mean to go and visit a Mosque in London. And I will certainly get round to it. I want to get close and meaningful with a real live Muslim – I want to chat as friends, to understand what drives them so passionately and why they still believe in the god of their ancestors in a way that eludes so many lapsed christian. And I will get round to it, I promise.
In the meantime I have read some verses from the Quran online, I have learnt that their “tafsir” works in much the same way as the Judaic “midrash” or the diverse biblical interpretations of the Christians such as St Augustine.
I can read of Confucius and the Buddha, I can study the Tao te Ching or read the Epic of Gilgamesh.
But more, far more. I can take my thirst for knowledge as far as I want to go, I can reach CERN in Geneva, I can study the science of consciousness with Giulio Tononi, the latest thoughts of Roger Penrose or the latest on Artificial Intelligence.
I can even participate in scientific research from the comfort of my own quiet book-lined study.
The internet is among the top few wonders of the modern world.