Friday, July 14, 2006

to minus infinity and back

('ware and be warned: this is highly academic people - watching! i'm thinking aloud again.)

someone is down in the dumps about the state of things in his/her life. too many problems, too few solutions, not much in their control. they decide to immerse themselves in something else with far greater problems in order to acquire a sense of perspective about their own life.

the "other thing" to be involved in must be picked carefully, you understand... it should be miserable enough to help relegate one's own troubles to the background - preferably a life with so many more complex problems than ours, so that that sense of infinity is stronger: the expanse of the scale of misery should be sufficiently long to make light our troubles.

but at the same time, we should not be able to relate to the misery we see. it shouldn't be personally relevant. there should be nothing that will draw that misery too close to us, because that would only swamp us again in despair and not help inculcate a sense of perspective.

so we well-off people volunteer in non-profit work for that week or two. we with loving families visit an orphanage. we with fine, healthy bodies spend time with the disabled. the highly well-read spend time with those who have not had the privilege of education...

i daresay quite a few of you have come across this phenomenon. it puzzles me. these aren't people who are doing the pity thing. these aren't people who get some perverted pleasure from others' pain or misery. they're most of 'em seemingly normal, nice people. and there are so many!

what kind of conditioning have we undergone that so many of us find it so hard in times of misery, to think of happy things? to think of all the moments of absolute happiness, the simple gladness to be alive that we have felt ourselves on other days? why can we not draw perspective for our troubles from the plus infinity side? i'm sure it makes zero equally small and transitory (if not more effectively) when seen from plus infinity as from minus infinity. when seen from how good life can be, as when seen from how awful life can be.

the focus is always on how bad life can be.

we seem to think we are all fundamentally miserable creatures, that we must needs forever chase happiness - an ephemeral elusive concept. we have the belief so deeply ingrained in us that even many intellectuals - maybe them more than anyone else - get bogged down in minus infinity and think the most profound thought comes from misery. (or dyou think it was some logic along the lines of "look, we have it, let's at least glorify it"?! :D)

it again smacks of consumerist culture brainwashing to me. why would you kill yourself trying to earn for that sleek car or hitech gadget if it weren't for the hope of happiness to be found in owning it? the markets wouldn't survive if they couldn't slave-drive us thus. who would bother with hair straighteners, fairness creams and trips to the moon if they were perfectly contented, already happy beings in love with life?!

scotty, i think we're being suckered here!

my life


Sunday, July 09, 2006

the dignity of labour

"You! Take this file upstairs to accounts."
"Hey! - Bring me another one."
"That's all. You can bring the cheque."
"I need this serviced."
"What the f--- d'you mean you can't let me in in these shoes?!"

This is the age of the consumer alright - the one with the manners of a pig. There is already a dignity in labour. We just happen to strip it away from the worker when we treat him/her like dirt.

A person's dignity has two facets: recognition by self and recognition by others. When we refuse to treat people decently because we happen to be the ones "in power" we're the ones robbing the job of dignity - not the waiters, sweepers, peons, bathroom cleaners or maids themselves.

Isn't it interesting that it's the same demeaning tactic we use to put down women? Society is often consistently barbaric!

my life, brownskinspeak

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

arbit blah 6

i go to a school of music to learn classical guitaring. however most of the other folks who come there come to learn to play the keyboard. now some of these, are very young children - 4/5 years old.

so each time a very small kiddy comes, and the pally greetings have been exchanged, the teacher (who evidently has a deadly sense of humour) asks 'em in a grave Jeeves-ian manner whether they'd like one chair or two. the wee un considers and chooses, clambers onto the little throne, and plinks away the next one hour, happily swinging its legs!

most chuckle-some!

my life


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