Monday, May 21, 2007

you can't cheat mr. death...

Just like the best stories succeed because they break one basic rule of narrative, and the best diets succeed because they break one fundamental rule of heatlh, good people always have a weak spot, where they concentrate their vices. Thus, a moral person who hates a subpopulation is lot like a successful dieter who eats a lot of salt.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The most creative solutions are often the most obvious

Most things that are true and worthwhile are obvious in retrospect.

When someone comes up with an idea and you say to yourself "why, that's obvious!", ask yourself whether you would have thought of the idea before you heard it. The obviousness and inevitability of an idea is proof of its value.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The sound of progress ...

With all this discussion of the econometrics of happiness in the popular press, it is surprising that the post-adolescent scrawlings of one of my favorite overwrought German Hegelians are completely unmentioned. Marx's original critique of capitalism, before he got sidetracked by surplus value, revenge and the inviting prospect of a community of wives, was that when money mediates your relationship to the world, you are psychologically incapable of achieving your full potentiality.

It's been a while since I read them, but I recall that the primary sources of alienation listed by Marx in the 1844 manuscripts were alienation from Nature, alienation from Society, and alienation from one's Ceative Product. These three types of alienation neatly fit into the human potentiality movements types of happiness, and I wonder if there is any "real" happiness outside of these three categories.

But it is nice for journalists to treat the fact that "money doesn't buy happiness" as front page news. People are so blinded by their jealousy of others that they never stop and think that their own hunger for attention is the problem rather than their lack of status. What's next? That a rich man can't buy his way into Heaven?

All told, of course, I am very happy that our supposedly capitalist society is dedicating resources to scientifically demonstrating the inability of capitalism to satisfy our higher selves, and this shows that our historical conjuncture is infinitely more complicated than the simplistic mechanics of a Leninist outlook. The force of the dialectic, when left to its own devices, will ultimately lead to the improvement of life, so long as nobody gets too impatient...