Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Glum or Gloomy

Feeling glum ... and gloomy. They're not the same. Glum is low bore self-pity; gloomy is clear-eyed watching the storms gather. Sometimes there are no storms. This time there are.

Over the weekend, there was a memo from work which brought home the economic crisis ... that is to say, the depression. It was a minor memo, and the content is not something I choose to disclose ... this blog is not about the particulars of my work even if I can muse about the nature of work in the electronic era from time to time. But the memo was so short, so firm, and indicated just how deep the cuts are going to be. I wonder who is on the block; I am reliably informed it is not me, but what if that does not last? How many people with seemingly firm jobs glumly, gloomily confront a future where everything solid could melt into poverty in one horrible morning meeting?

In the meanwhile, with Americans slowly groking how shallow is the pool and how deep is the doodoo, the 'publicans have opted for a nihilism so thin and so dark and so obvious that one is left to wonder. But wonder not ... of such things are the darkest periods in human history made. They are dancing with the devil, and they know, and they like it. Bobby Jindal be damned ... he is their clown, their marionette dancing to orders from bozos, and thereby a bozo himself.

But I am far away from what started me thinking about this post. It was the memo ... and it was my glum recent quandary when faced with two laundry bags that no longer fit into my life. I found I could not throw them out. They are folded, ungeometrically, on a stool in my bedroom that collects sundry objects pining for a place of their own. They came into my life with a fetching but cheap wicker basket that I use for dirty clothes ... but they are useless and they don't fit the basket so I want to get rid of them. I can't do it. I hate throwing things out.

How much better off would we be if we hated throwing things out as a society. We have become so inured to the obscenity of discarding things still filled with utility that we have backed ourselves into a global cataclysm. Next time you get out, watch as the busboys clear tables and imagine how much food is discarded in the restaurants of America every day. Okay, that is cranky ... but it is true.

That memo mentioned above portends, without predicting, people being discarded. I do not blame my immediate bosses ... they are marching to orders from the real deciders who are marching to orders generated by the collapse of our illusions. But our response to a crisis is to dispose of people when a society which worked together would respond to a crisis. Curious that it is the nihilists of the 'publican bent who are Christians and eschew so virulently the notion that Marx derived from Christianity Christian "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." Witness this, o christians:

32. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
33. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
34. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
35. And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. [Acts 4:32-35; my emphasis]

I suppose I am rambling.

So as I was waiting yesterday for dinner, I grabbed a book off the shelf at random, as I often do, and read a passage to RL, my sainted roommate, cook, and bartender. It was Istvan Mészáros' 1970 Marx's Theory of Alienation. This was a book that made a big splash among the leftists and radicals who were my companions in that era. I picked a random quote, something that I underlined more than three decades ago,

Alienation is therefore characterized by the universal extension of "saleability" (i.e. the transformation of everything into commodity); by the conversion of human beings into "things" so that they could appear as commodities on the market on the market (in other words : the "reification" of human relations); and by the fragmentation of the social body into "isolated individuals" ... who pursued their own, particularistic aims "in servitude to egotistic need", making a virtue out of their selfishness in their cult of privacy.)

You know ... that may be Marx, and I may be an atheistic ex-post-Marxist ... but if you read that as a quote from the Bible to a bunch of christers, they would believe it was the words of Jesus.

Whatever else, it does come close to the glum soul of our gloomy crisis.

Photos by Arod from the countryside around Winchester, Ontario, 2007

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