Thursday, August 21, 2014

I Should/Should Not Want These Things (Philosophy Thursday)

So I'm told that my last philosophy post on this blog was a little rambling and devoid of clear points at the end. I'll try and remedy that this time. It's been a probably -- even in writing yesterday's post on my other blog. I felt both times as if my brain had fallen out my skull. Afternoon is not a good, productive time for me. A fog, I tell you, a great mental fog settles over my every afternoon. That's what I'll blame it on! :P

So the point of last week's philosophy blog entry was that there are two types of usurpation: the material and the personal. I can want and take things that 'don't belong to me' and I can take up personal 'space' with a larger-than-life presence or personality so that nothing else can exist. And the final point I made is that these are things that the world tells me I simultaneously should and should not want.

I Should Want These Things

At least in my little corner of the world, I supposed to want all of the things. Capitalist economies have the tacit rule nowadays that they have to keep expanding, keep growing and my little part of that is that as long as I am making more money than the year before, I am supposed to spend more of it on crappy products and useless junk. Or less crappy products that are 'rare' or 'exclusive' and thus more expensive.

Now, I'm not here to argue against Capitalism. It's an economic system and I believe like all economic systems (which have yet to take into account the complexities of the human brain and human brains interacting at a massive scale), it only works on paper.

What I do want to say is that I get the feeling that material usurpation is meant to be my default within this particular economic system. I am meant to want things, even those things that are produced at the expense of other people's basic human needs like food, water, shelter, dignity, et cetera. Never mind that I have those things already! I should want more more more.

As for celebrity, I'm going to let someone smarter than I explain that bit:

(especially the last part: 22:00-ish onward)

I Should Not Want These Things:

So I have the sense that I am supposed to want 'mountains of things', I am supposed to aspire to a room-filling, difference-sucking presence. But I also get the sense that I am not supposed to want these things. There is a secondary theme running through my society that I have bumped up against: that I am supposed to be happy with what I have, make the most of my lot in life.

Perhaps cute photos such as the one at right are good reminders, but they are also trite and reduce complex feelings down to little mottos. Reading that motto every morning is not going to make you not want to buy pretty things, given the chance, and works I think only to repress any sort of desire that has been channelled into buying useless crap rather than allowing an honest examination of what made you want that stuff in the first place (usually a lack of personal fulfillment).

Oh boy...
But I digress. The point I'm trying to make here is that there is a notion underlying these mottos that I should not want more than you already have. Or in some cases, these mottos perfectly illustrate what I'm saying, like the picture at left: I should simultaneously be happy with my lot in life while also working hard to achieve that out-sized life.

So which is it? Am I not supposed to put the prospect of riches and of celebrity before myself in order to get motivated? Or am I suppose to be contented to live a life of obscurity, without any celebrated works or public pronouncements of my skilled excellence whether monetary or otherwise? Am I just meant to write for myself, as a hobbyist, and then at the end of my life have my works forgotten, buried in some desk draw (read: computer storage)?

This, my friends, is where my ethics kick in. A description of which I'll have to save for next week, as they take a lot of pixels to describe...

So see you next Thursday, when I finally get into the meat of the thing! :)