Sunday, November 25, 2012

Illicit Gain

When transactions demand you bring your hunger, naivete and vulnerability—not common sense, community concerns, or learned reason—should you just walk away? Maybe you want to sow weeds rather than stay perennially relaxed and unscathed. Anyway, it's impossible to go through life without regrets and tragedies. You don't have to look hard to find pain; never doubt it'll find you. Anyone who listens to media will be hounded with pleas to act out of patriotism or personal values without considering the sacrifices. They dangle a given, expect you to buy in, then take advantage of your sin of omission to perpetrate some horrible crime in your name. It doesn't matter that you only agreed generally in principle; it's a deal with the devil, a wish with unintended consequences. Are concomitant protests oddly organized best described as boycotts or oppositional defiant disorder?

If you heed anarchist Adbusters and their Buy Nothing Day, ask yourself how you'd live without trade. Total self sufficiency is massively inefficient and materially wasteful, even though likely to refuse and reuse. You'll burn furniture to stay warm when logs aren't abundant. Stuff never made invites distress and wretchedness. Yet you don't have to kowtow to commerce, either, because legions of Black Friday shoppers willingly stand in line at all hours in your stead, as gruesomely skewered by Freedomain Radio. Activists against business aren't themselves eating less or eschewing durable goods or interstate transport to profitable speaking engagements; they only want to convince enough so their own lives will be easier, thus assuage their own guilt at your expense. What they should promote is one-for-all products instead of endless choices for the sake of ego and planned obsolescences that waste resources. Yet as materials get scarce, only a multitude of approaches keeps people working and things happening. How everyone survives matters. Anarchy and apathy end badly, whereas interdependency and reciprocity yield both equanimity and prosperity.

In Jim Carrey comedy The Truman Show (Peter Weir, dir., 1998) everyone beside Carey's character is a cast member on a "reality" television show in which Truman unknowingly stars. Many residents of idyllic island town of Seahaven ride bicycles. With nowhere far to drive on set, bicycling and walking are preferred. Show's popularity has everyone fulfilling ad placements and holding up products for sale with smiles. Mankind's factual inability to escape suggestions to slurp sugary beverages has resulted in an epidemic of diabetic obesity. Focus ought to be on natural wholesomeness, instead of synthetic yellow jerseys after which glory hounds lust.

In new novel Gold by Chris Cleave (2012, 324 pp.), best friends and Olympic rivals Kate and Zoe compete and emote, while Kate and her husband Jack, also a World class cyclist, contend with recurrence of young Sophie's leukemia. Triumphs over cancer sufferance, domestic duties, and potty training get devalued versus velodome achievements. Embittered by all she'd surrendered to pursue championships, Zoe berates her coach, "Your job was to sell tickets to the freak show, the same as everyone else." See a future chick flick.

Stakes for a star with special skills in winning self selected game seem almost too high to stand. Anything done alone for fame or to amass illicit gain brings anguish and chill, while instances when participants share normally cheer and warm.

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