May 27, 2008

Had you not lost all your sheep...

Finished that talk on Totalitarian Consumerism from the post before last, and it didn't develop in any meaningful fashion. The man has a whole page of credentials and honors and speaks well, but there's little point to it beyond aren't commercials dumbing, aren't multinationals too much of a good thing, and shouldn't we do something to resist things. He confesses to driving an Audi in a guilty tone, and I although I lack the car-savvy to grasp the consequences of this, I'm sure his home is full of tasteful knick-knacks. In short, he seems like an odd person to be calling for a return to a level of existence beyond which basic needs are not met - although that call itself takes some guts or gall when speaking to a public audience in what was once behind the Berlin Wall.

His prescriptions were not clear, but he didn't suggest running any workarounds on the primate systems just below the surface of us all. And in truth it's so easy to resist on a personal level, by just not buying their stuff. Also...the ability to turn away from the world and it's judgments on success and failure needs to be cultivated, you need to understand your head and learn that nearly all the good things are created inside. Stoicism should be acquired, because even if you have the ability to remain ultra-virtuous you can be sure others will come along and f*** things up before long.

I keep returning to the survivorship bias. The visible success are a small outcrop of all the necessary failures. In many fields, the average level of achievement is very, very low. Think of actors in L.A., the vast majority of whom are waiting tables, so the cliche runs, waiting for their big break. Their level of achievement is zero to date and mostly likely zero in the future. In this I can comfort myself with being statistically bang on target.

In most endeavors outside of the well-run profession the majority of people will fail. That's why it's important to find some work you enjoy or that pays well enough and you can live with.

And yet there's always a secret success, the germ of which is a kind of madness, a refusal to live purely externally and be judged on appearances. Reality is out there, but directly inaccessible to us all, so the construction we perceive is wholly subjective. In short, cultivate your garden.

Pangloss used now and then to say to Candide: "There is a concatenation of all events in the best of possible worlds; for, in short, had you not been kicked out of a fine castle for the love of Miss Cunegund; had you not been put into the Inquisition; had you not traveled over America on foot; had you not run the Baron through the body; and had you not lost all your sheep, which you brought from the good country of El Dorado, you would not have been here to eat preserved citrons and pistachio nuts."

"Excellently observed," answered Candide; "but let us cultivate our garden."
The end of Candide
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