Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The Final Solution: No Moratorium on Striving

What’s particularly disconcerting is that in the middle of a pandemic, people are still striving for things. Why won’t they stop? It would be interesting to learn how many patents were issued for new inventions since February and compare that to 2019. Editors at magazines like The New Yorker which are the repository for submissions of short stories and poems for those who dream of notoriety are likely more inundated than ever. What are people to do who are socially distancing, confined to their homes and unable to do anything but dream of creating a hit that will make them famous—say like Hamilton? ("Home Alone," The East Hampton Star, 4/23/20). You’d think on the other hand that there would be a moratorium that would produce a leveling effect. The operant idea in this catastrophe-based dystopia being that human beings are all in the same boat or ark. Why not help others so that the society prevails through its current crisis? Altruism can be naturally selective as Larissa MacFarquhar points out in Strangers Drowning. On the other hand, the human psyche is locked in a slow dance with ego, in which the passion for some kind of ecstatic release or resurrection becomes the driving force, particularly in moments, like the present, when unending stress is a fact of everyday life. Yes, just when you were about to lay back thinking, this is horrible, but at least competitiveness and jealousy are on the backburner, you take a gulp when you find out that the next door neighbor has gotten a wopping advance for their coronavirus diary.

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