Friday, March 16, 2018

The Lottery

Lots of people play the lottery. That's why the Powerball jackpots are so huge. In fact one recent winner sued to maintain her anonymity, one of the things that's usually lost when you have this kind of win ("Lottery Winner Knows Just What to Do With $560 Million: Fight to Stay Anonymous," NYT, 2/6/18). The iconic nature of the lottery in which winner takes all was capitalized on by Shirley Jackson in her famous story which appeared in the June 26, 1948 issue of The New Yorker. In fact the winner in that case was a big time loser, but there the author was frying other fish amongst them the lack of innocence in complacency. Essentially playing lotteries is a way of life and it can be a bad thing to the extent that you begin to live for a certain thrill that's predicated on impossibility. It's a little like hypochondria. The hypochondriac thinks they want to get better but actually they need a new disease the cure of which leaves them a perpetual state of hope. Some people forswear lotteries because they've given up the life of thrill seeking and would rather expend their energy on soluble problems with less dramatic outcomes. You might not make millions but there's a certain pleasure in putting in the time and  effort which produces success and respect in a profession. There's no high and sometimes it feels like a kind of slog--the boring process and subtle rewards that account for what is usually termed fulfillment. 

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