Sunday 27 November 2022

If you knew how quickly people forget the dead, you wouldn't care about fame. This thought was a revelation to me.

It came to me when I read this.

'If you knew how quickly people forget the dead… you would stop living to impress people.' Christopher Walken.

On the other hand, Horace's fame has not diminished though he went through a dip in the dark ages. "I have made me a monument more lasting than bronze."

Dr Johnson said 'Nothing odd will do long. Tristram Shandy didn't last.' But Shandy did and does. I knew I would love it but when I tried it I didn't finish the first chapter, which was odd as I adored The Sentimental Journey.


  1. The broken in our country are not simply the result of policy flaws, but are an active by-product of our system. We are a country determined to churn out the mentally ill and lonely.

    The US has a brutal culture of individual material success. Of emphasizing you being you, and in the process, getting as much as you can, as quickly as you can. Of finding and being the true you, of winning at all costs, despite the harm to family, faith, community, friends, and whatever other silly obligations might hold you down.

    A loose confederation of millions of untethered individuals running around trying to be their own person, while also getting as much as they can.

    Of viewing anyone who doesn’t, or can’t, play this game as a loser. A person who deserves little because they don’t understand themselves enough, or do want it enough.

    US culture is a fast moving escalator up, with little time or patience for anyone who gets in the way. You have to keep moving up, plowing over anyone who holds you back.

    The broken are the people who’ve fallen, or been pushed, off the escalator, unable to keep up, because they are mentally slow, physically unfit, or tortured with inner demons.

    Or people who have jumped off because they don’t want to be on the escalator in the first place. Unable to get with, or understand, our obsession with constantly rising higher, constantly getting more and more, constantly redefining yourself.

    While I do love Thanksgiving, it feels more and more like an anachronism. A brief pause in our escalators ever quickening churn higher. An old holiday we wheel out to say, look, we really are still all about community, family, and togetherness. Really about the transcendent.

    But we aren’t. It’s the next three weeks, Christmas season, that is the true American holiday. Not the one that comes with meditations on togetherness and ends with midnight mass, but the one that comes with essays about self realization and ends with piles of stuff. The one that comes with ad after ad saying the true you and true happiness only comes by buying whatever they are selling.

    That’s America. A place where you can get whatever you want, be whoever you want to be, as long as you do the necessary work.

    And if you don’t. Well. We aren’t entirely heartless. We do have plenty of soup kitchens available.

    Chris Arnade, Thanksgiving thoughts
    On America's homelessness and loneliness

    1. Soulless. It's not a nation in the old sense of the world, like the Cherokee nation.

    2. Why we have homelessness

      Because the American economic system requires homelessness. Think of the homeless as runoff, the unfortunate but necessary waste product of an economic system designed to exploit workers for the benefit of space-traveling overlords.

      Until slavery ended, human beings were considered capital, just like stock today. Now we’re “human resources” so everything’s better. Bringing up race hides the real story of how long this has been going on and how deep a part of our way of life it is. The line between controlling someone with a whip and controlling someone through ever-lower wages gets finer and finer over time.

      This is what “systematic” means: a system of public-private sector agreements codified as laws that push workers into a cesspool as grab-and-go disposable labor. Those who sink end up homeless. Those who tread water are guaranteed a life of maybe just enough, their place in society fixed for others’ goals, never their own. It also assures the sales of drugs, alcohol and lottery tickets as the working poor try to convince themselves all this can’t be true. Can it?

      The next step is clear. The working poor are allowed to exist at survival levels only because they are in jobs too expensive or difficult to automate. You think there are a lot of homeless people now? Wait until self-driving vehicles click in and another job category simply disappears, leaving drivers and delivery people nowhere to go (there are more than 3.5 million truck drivers in the US, making driving one of the largest occupations). Same for fast food and other service jobs.

      A system designed to exploit will always exploit too much at its edges. It is supposed to, to keep driving the center downward, from 1950’s middle class to 2022’s working poor. But in the near term, the issue isn’t confronting the reality of inequality so much as navigating the society it has created. “Don’t make eye contact” was some of my tour guide’s best advice.

      What Hawaii taught me about American homelessness
      By Peter Van Buren 
      The Spectator’s December 2022 World edition.

  2. Many people in the US lead low-key and noncompetitive lives. It is harder to earn money that way than it used to be, but plenty of people still do it.