Monday, October 8, 2012

I've Been Away for Awhile

Bill Keller, usually the very model for Very Serious paublum since hiring himself as a weekly columnist for the NYT, has actually written a thoroughly decent piece that came out today.   
One still hears bitter griping about Kids These Days with their uppity self-esteem; but the truth is that American culture has always encouraged us to be a fantastically self-assured people.  This does have its benefits of course.  It may well be that we would have never been able to 'totally go to the moon man' if it wern't for this attitude.  But it does have its obvious drawbacks as well; most famously in the way it poisons our political well with the 'Rugged Individualist' myth.  And our collective illusion of control is also the main reason why our 'dying with dignity' debate is probably fucked beyond all hope forever. I've had several private conversations in which the other person spoke of a dying loved one 'letting themselves go.'  In my observation it is generally stated very calmly, matter-of-factly, and commonsensically that death is nearly always a matter of "giving up"; so that permanent life is by extension a simple matter of toughness and will.  There is of course the great religious 'pro-life' bambast and all that; but cosmic belief only ever follows from what the heart already wants.  The actual truth is that there is no such thing as a 'fight' against cancer or AIDS or diabetes or lupus, only victimization that we have no power to refuse and the occasional survival out of pure luck.  Or go ahead and call it a blessing or a miracle if you insist. 
Then of course is the prodding by insurance companies telling victims that they would be perverse to not exhaust their life savings on chachining their lives by a few extra months.  (There are personal stories about this in the comment section to Keller's article)  Though it's also true that not even the best con-artists can sell their marks on something they wern't already yearning for.

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