Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Absence and presence

The best thing we can do for each other is to understand our own situation. It's not important what the situation is -- whether it is attended by x amount of "privilege" versus y degree of "hardship": everyone is in a different situation. No one will ever be in a better position to understand your own, so that's your job. The most you can ever offer anyone else is the truth as it appears to you, with the understanding that it is only a piece of the whole. It is also the most you can ever ask from another person.

Only once we know what is true about our own circumstances can we identify those points of commonality that exist in what is true about anyone else's. In this way, we look to better coordinate what we do by complementing each other.

The potential power of such self-knowledge may be deduced from the measure of determination society shows in always wanting to overcome it. Wherever we turn, there is an "expert" on hand to explain our situation to us, whether the subject is the economy, marketplace, personal finance or fulfillment. One simply cannot be "informed" without them!  It is no small coincidence that what often distinguishes the "educated consumer" from the average Joe is the extent to which such instruction is solicited uncritically: Bernie Madoff's clients can tell you a story about that!

Under the industrial conditions of its production, with all the centralizing tendencies this implies, it is often the case that the freedom to think comes in the absence of "information" altogether, in letting go of everything that is unessential to who you are.


what the Tee Vee taught said...

I like. The great deferral is really something to behold. "Please, tell me what to do, because I know there is a right thing, and I really would like to be a part of it."

You've been on a roll. Perhaps you've switched to a new brand of fabric softener? Maybe some scented candles in the bathroom? What's your secret?

Ethan said...

Only an expert can see there's a problem and only an expert can deal with the problem.

Quin said...

Ethan, that song was outstanding.

I'm so thankful to have an expert like JRB to deal with the problem. (Wait a second...)

JRB, I don't know how you've managed the trick of making self-improvement seem like the best way to help others, but you have. I also notice you (perhaps pointedly) never appear to actually use the term "self-improvement" yourself, but always "self-knowledge" or "self-mastery" or "self-realization" or other variations on the theme. I think I understand why, and it's a wise choice.

JRB said...

what the Tee Vee taught:

Maybe some scented candles in the bathroom? What's your secret?

I chalk it up to less time in front of the computer and more time preparing my life for death! But thanks for thinking so. I feel ladypoverty is in a transitional stage, thanks in large part to BDR and Montag.

Quin: Self-help assumes you are the biggest obstacle to achieving your goals! It is on this point that self-help and I go our separate ways.

Ethan: Unfortunately for my insides, that is a catchy tune.

Anonymous said...

Yet another very diggable post, JRB.