Friday, May 5, 2017

The Final Solution: Tempting Fate

contract bridge hand (TerriersFan)
A lot has been written about the irrational element in human action,  most recently by the psychologist Daniel Kahneman, who won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002, (Thinking, Fast and Slow). Loss aversion, for instance, is discussed by some theorists as one example of how human beings don’t always make decisions that are to their own benefit. But all the theorizing in the world doesn’t seem to explain the most blatant forms of the penchant that many people have to do stupid things. Guilt is often brought in. For instance, you feel reluctant to do something for your own benefit because of the Schadenfreude you feel towards your adversary, in a competitive situation like a card game, who might get the wrong end of the stick. You, of course, want them to lose and have such a strong urge to gloat in their misfortune that you prevent yourself from succeeding. But does this explain why you might finally end up becoming a total loser, instead of the great bridge champ you were meant to be? There has to be a moment when after repeating the same behavior time and again you finally get the point and pull an ace out of the hole, as it were, and finally go on to have the hand you were dealt written about by someone like Alan Truscott, who covered bridge for The Times until 2005. Practice make perfect and even dark subliminal forces have to finally give way in the presence of the reality with which you are faced—unless of course your goal is to be the greatest failure of all time. The subject at hand is really the death instinct and one wonders if on the stage of human affairs that one day the powers that be, whoever they are, will wake up and realize that their tempting of fate is not a rehearsal.    

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