Filed under: brave new world, the sweet life | Tags: Homo Economicus, new science of pleasure, The Debt to Pleasure, The Economist
But the economic man isn’t just a rube; he is really the dominant, everyman figure in contemporary life. Perhaps it is the slick exterior which has convinced us that Homo Economicus – you could also call him theamericanmba – is the great model figure we are to emulate in our own lives. Slickness and every last economics department in every university the world over for the past half century.
This is a reductive view. A life well lived draws from other wells – not just the money and status well, and Economic Man in this view is an oddity.
From an article in the mouthpiece of Homo Economicus the Economist:
“SOVEREIGN in tastes, steely-eyed and point-on in perception of risk, and relentless in maximisation of happiness.” This was Daniel McFadden’s memorable summation, in 2006, of the idea of Everyman held by economists. That this description is unlike any real person was Mr McFadden’s point. The Nobel prizewinning economist at the University of California, Berkeley, wryly termed homo economicus “a rare species”. In his latest paper* he outlines a “new science of pleasure”, in which he argues that economics should draw much more heavily on fields such as psychology, neuroscience and anthropology. He wants economists to accept that evidence from other disciplines does not just explain those bits of behaviour that do not fit the standard models. Rather, what economists consider anomalous is the norm. Homo economicus, not his fallible counterpart, is the oddity.
The Debt to Pleasure, The Economist
via Reason & Existenz
Filed under: brave new world, the sweet life | Tags: cities, Georg Simmel, Metropolis and Mental Life, modernity
Timely, predictable, exact, intellectual, modern, money: the qualities and modes by which we live in the modern city; which squash the irrational, instinctive, sovereign world of contemplation and inner awareness. Great artists have taken issue with the life of the city for this reason. Urban life, which I love, becomes a tension between the two; one must not let the schematized overwhelm.
By Georg Simmel:
“Punctuality, calculability, exactness are forced upon life by the complexity and extension of metropolitan existence are not only most intimately connected with its money economy and intellectual character. These traits must also color the contents of life and favor the exclusion of those irrational, instinctive, sovereign traits and impulses which aim at determining the mode of life from within, instead of receiving the general and precisely schematized form of life from without. Even those sovereign types of personality, characterized by irrational impulses, are by no means impossible in the city, they are, nevertheless, opposed to typical city life. The passionate hatred of men like Ruskin and Nietzsche for the metropolis is understandable in these terms. Their natures discovered the value of life alone in the unschematized existence which cannot be defined with precision for all alike. From the same source of this hatred of the metropolis surged their hatred of money economy and the intellectualism of modern existence.”
-Georg Simmel “Metropolis and Mental Life”
notes from dystopia
Filed under: brave new world, departure lounge | Tags: A Little Fable, cat, Franz Kafka, mouse
“Alas,” said the mouse, “the world gets smaller every day. At first it was so wide that I ran along and was happy to see walls appearing to my right and left, but these high walls converged so quickly that I’m already in the last room, and there in the corner is the trap into which I must run.”
“But you’ve only got to run the other way,” said the cat, and ate it.
Kafka, A Little Fable
Filed under: the sweet life, unseen world | Tags: aldous huxley, contemplation, ego, Hinduism, psychology, symbols, The Dancing Shiva
Here is a wonderful description of the Hindu god Shiva – the great, dark, yogi, dancer, destroyer. In the clip, Aldous Huxley sees Shiva – within a ring of fire, hair flowing across the universe, in his dancing pose – as a comprehensive symbol of life that explains the cosmos / material world, gets human psychology right and recommends an essential spiritual existence.
Huxley’s underlying critique is that our own symbols – he invokes the Christian cross – are scientific and utilitarian, and fall short of sufficient for sustaining life. For H. symbols are embued with so much meaning that they structure how we think about and act in our world – to a degree to which they are ‘sustaining.’ ’Can we get on,’ without them – ? he wonders in the final moments of his reflection.
The author’s cynicism is countered with his enthusiasm for Shiva, a comprehensive symbol which tells us that we must kill the ego to find our way, and learn to contemplate which will us free us. (more…)
The former is preferable without doubt, to be born stupid into an intelligent society, because you can become less stupid, and chances are you will if everyone around you is intelligent, and because you’re changing you, not someone else and not a system.
The latter option, to be born intelligent into an insane society – which one could argue many are living in today, I feel like I am – is more difficult. You could try to find someone else to make a meet up or an aren’t we smart club with, but more than likely you will just go mad as you tilt at the windmill of the insanity around you.
I think insane societies are that way because somehow the majority has finally – usually after a generation and more of convincing – fully believed colossal lies about themselves and their lives. They are so huge we call them orthodoxies; they are virtually impossible to dislodge.
A final note about the premise of the question: are we born one way or the other? More than likely we’re nurtured into ignorance or enlightenment.
Aldous Huxley asks:
“which is better – to be born stupid into an intelligent society or intelligent into an insane one?”
Filed under: departure lounge, the sweet life | Tags: Alain Daniélou, ganas, Gods of Love and Ecstasy: The Traditions of Shiva and Dionysus
Is god respectable or is he wild? The vast majority of his priests – ecumenically speaking, in each of his manifestations, sects and religions – would fall – would they err? – on the side of respectability: ethical, orderly. Here is the other view via Alain Danielou, Gods of Love and Ecstasy.
God’s – the Shivaite and Dionysian variety – companions are on the one hand joyful, courageous, imaginative, youthful and harmonious; and on the other, mockers of authority and law and anti bourgeois. These are of course twin qualities: to flourish we must rid ourselves of anti flourishing agents.
From Gods of Love:
In Shivaite tradition, the god’s companions are described as a troupe of freakish, adventurous, delinquent and wild young people, who prowl in the night, shouting in the storm, singing, dancing and ceaselessly playing outrageous tricks on sages and gods. They are called Ganas, the “Vagabonds”, corresponding to the CretanKorybantes and the Celtic Korrigans (fairies’ sons). Like the Sileni and Satyrs, some of them have goats’ or birds’ feet. The Ganas mock the rules of ethics and social order. They personify the joy of living, courage and imagination, which are all youthful values. They live in harmony with nature and oppose the destructive ambition of the city and the deceitful moralism which both hides and expresses it. These delinquents of heaven are always there to restore true values and to assist the “god-mad” who are persecuted and mocked by the powerful. They personify everything which is feared by and displeases bourgeois society, and which is contrary to the good morale of a well-policed city and its palliative concepts.
— Alain Daniélou, Gods of Love and Ecstasy: The Traditions of Shiva and Dionysus
From Reason & Existenz