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"When we describe the Moon as dead, we are describing the deadness in ourselves. When we find space so hideously void, we are describing our own unbearable emptiness."
~ D.H. Lawrence

"Is the meaning of life defined by its duration? Or does life have a purpose so large that it doesn't have to be prolonged at any cost to preserve its meaning?"

"Living is not good, but living well. The wise man, therefore, lives as well as he should, not as long as he can... He will always think of life in terms of quality not quantity... Dying early or late is of no relevance, dying well or ill is... even if it is true that while there is life there is hope, life is not to be bought at any cost."
~ Seneca

"People will tell you nothing matters, the whole world's about to end soon anyway. Those people are looking at life the wrong way. I mean, things don't need to last forever to be perfect."
~ Daydream Nation

"All Bette's stories have happy endings. That's because she knows where to stop. She's realized the real problem with stories-- if you keep them going long enough, they always end in death."
~ The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes

"The road now stretched across open country, and it occurred to me - not by way of protest, not as a symbol, or anything like that, but merely as a novel experience - that since I had disregarded all laws of humanity, I might as well disregard the rules of traffic. So I crossed to the left side of the highway and checked the feeling, and the feeling was good. It was a pleasant diaphragmal melting, with elements of diffused tactility, all this enhanced by the thought that nothing could be nearer to the elimination of basic physical laws than deliberately driving on the wrong site of the road."
~ Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

"It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend."
~ William Blake
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The economy
Saturday, September 7, 2019
I have recently been reading What About Me?: The Struggle for Identity in a Market-Based Society by Paul Verhaeghe. I actually bought it over a year ago but hadn't opened it until recently. It seems like it might be timely for me to read it now, though. Surprisingly it aligns with some of the thought tracks I've been having lately-- about the privileging of economic concerns above all else, chiefly.
Not so long ago, our culture, and thus our identity, was determined by interaction between four key areas: politics, religion, the economy, and the arts, with politics and religion competing for dominance. These days, politicians are fodder for stand-up comedians; religion prompts associations with suicide bombers or sexual abuse; and everyone is an artist. The only thing that still counts is the economy, and here the neo-liberal economic narrative has taken over. (p. 112)

Obviously Verhaeghe makes some generalizations here about politics, religion, and the arts, but I think that the main point is still correct-- that as a society we tend to place economic interests above all else. (His writing style is also intended for a lay audience and as such is written in a conversational way, not meant to be taken overly literally).

How else to explain some of the recent developments and priorities that have manifested? There was that news story awhile back about a baker who denied service to a gay couple and wouldn't make them a wedding cake. As I recall there was plenty of outrage over it. How dare this baker discriminate against gay people? And for what, "religious beliefs"? Completely unacceptable!

It's a compelling argument if you:
1) Believe that people should not be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation
2) Believe religion has no place in business
3) Don't question either of the first two beliefs

I want to note that I don't think anybody should be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation. I am generally in favor of treating people in an equitable manner as long as nobody's getting hurt. At the same time, I question the utility of forcing someone to serve others in their own business. If it's a government institution or some larger corporation that has clear policies against discrimination, then of I think by being an employee there's implicit or explicit consent to follow institutional policies, but if it's an independent business? Something seems odd there. It seems like there's an implied message of "if I'm paying you, you do what I want, and you're not allowed to refuse" (within the scope of the business). Is it okay to force an independent business owner to work for someone they don't want to work for? This goes for both sides, not just with the baker. There will always be people who are more motivated by money than by other values they may hold, so I think it's unlikely that the discriminated-against potential patron would be unable to obtain services anywhere.

Of course, this isn't a novel idea in any way. I'm pretty sure there's constant acknowledgement of the influence that money and the economy have. Most edgy teenagers probably have some phase where they think money is evil, and goodness knows there are plenty of people who advocate for other systems because they think capitalism is the root of all the problems we have. I guess the difference for me personally, and why it's been sticking in my mind more recently, is that it seems nearly impossible to imagine alternate ways of living. We gripe about money ruling everything but also don't closely examine the pervasive influence it has in our lives. We get stuck just thinking about money and the economy and it becomes this false dichotomy of "MONEY GOOD" or "MONEY BAD"... But either way, it's still about money. There's a larger picture here, and it is theoretically possible to have a society where economic interests do not dominate everything else, isn't it? We are just so steeped in a particular way of thought here that the concept of a culture that doesn't put such an emphasis on the economy is ridiculous or unthinkable. Seems like in the mainstream discourse we mostly have people with different ideas about how to make different economic policies that will improve society along economic lines.

...Though, it's not as if I have any grand ideas about how we should change things. Mostly I'm just musing on the narratives that were invisible to me before.

"It's The Economy, Stupid" by John McCutcheon.
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