A Jug of Life, A...
Omar compared life to wine.
I'd say a sour Brand X red.
Putting it down from day to day
generates a lot of nausea,
more in my mind than in my guts
but in my stomach, too;
and there should be something
like Rolaids or baking soda
to take for life.
One objection I've actually heard to communism is that it would be boring. Maybe so. Excitement, whether unnecessarily faked up (like bungie diving, driving too fast, or gambling when you're rich) or real (like gambling your house and savings on a small business dream, or surviving in a desperate slum), is usually a matter of living on a cliff edge, and communism's promise is to remove most of life's cliff edges.
When I was a kid philosopher, I thought it profound to declare that "we are happiest when we are bored, if we only knew it at the time." Well, to be more precise, maybe I should have changed happiest to usually happy enough, i.e. "we are usually happy enough when we are bored." But, inexact or not, kid that I was, I WAS right. My point was and is profoundly, importantly true.
I can't certainly equate I with "we," but I'm happiEST when I'm eating, or doing something else that feels good, or when I'm comfortably inactive and not yet bored.
But the point is that boredom, while not clearly synonymous with pleasure, is unlikely to involve pain, and Epicurus's dictum that happiness = the absence of pain makes sense. It makes even more sense to tie happiness to safety, i.e. a state of being effectively protected from pain. Boring or not, safety is almost certainly comfortable, and comfortable virtually = painless and therefore, Epicurus would have to agree, happy enough.
But then I am told by people who got this from the newspapers that back when the Russians, who (according to very, very, very unreliable sources) reportedly avoided pain by not speaking "freely" and had nothing ELSE to worry about except bitter cold winters, they were reportedly so very bored they reportedly had the world's highest alcoholism and suicide rates. Well, maybe. Cradle to grave security for theoretical Russians theoretically keeping their mouths shut in frozen Moscow may have been more boring than it is for actually very freely complaining Cubans under an actually benign government in the tropics. I was never in communist Russia. To me, Cubans don't look any more bored than I am.
But, whatever it was really like in communist Russia, I know that boring, happy-enough safety sometimes depresses me, too. Please note, just in case you're one of those people who read too fast, that I'm acknowledging that being bored is sometimes depressing.
But so what? My main reason for wanting to win the lottery or live in my own version of a communist society (either will do) is to know my daughter is safe, i.e. as secure as she can be, meaning: maybe bored silly but certainly comfortable, meaning without pain and as effectively protected from pain as is likely in this world and therefore happy enough.
That's right! Because even when I'm so bored I'm suicidal or on my way back to the bar, I can still easily rationalize my fix as more desirable than the fix of an old bag lady, an Iraqi being bombed, or a victim of hunger, torture, or high priced health insurance.
My pension being equal - for me - to either wealth or communism, I'm at least safely bored until that hag, Mother Nature, destroys my boredom with a painful and frightening "catastrophic" physical breakdown. Then it should logically be only the loss of my safe boredom that justifies suicide. Right now, thanks to my pension and my continuing health, I'm really happy enough, in spite of my often heavy boredom, and I wish I could will my daughter the same safe, happy boredom I enjoy.
You know something? There's a fear erasing pill coming soon. With that and a painless set of suicide pills instead of an insurance policy, all anybody really needs, besides the assurance of a comfortable level of food, shelter, clothing, and health care, is enough imagination to trump up an occasional gentle adventure (say a picnic lunch), and an otherwise safe, comfortable, boring existence would be happy enough.
How men could share their wealth with
and happily support a lot of happy women
without having to live with them
Legalized prostitutes would be perfectly OK if there were no STD's and if taking perfectly safe morning-after pills with breakfast were a perfectly acceptable custom. As a compulsive truth teller, I'm declaring that to be a happy unexpected truth.
Oddly, this hit me hard while watching "Mujer Del Puerto," meant to be a tragic tale (and it IS a tragic tale) of a poor woman's fall into "sin" leading to suicide.
Images in the 1931 Mexican movie of merchant sailors on shore for the night in Veracruz having fun with happy looking girls "selling love for the night to lovers who'd leave in the morning" (the movie's theme song) really were fun to watch...
...and why not? Why couldn't the people on the screen who looked as if they were having fun not really have been having fun? And what would be wrong with that?
The sailors in the movie were mostly good guys, and the girls making them happy were doing a good job of it and deserved both their pay and to go happily home to their own beds next morning with clear consciences - just like girls who sell candy in candy stores or kisses at county fairs, or happily trade their "virtue" for a bit of fun at barn dances and those apparently happy night clubs called meat markets. There were no pimps in the movie, but pimps wouldn't exist without stupid religious stigma and stupid religious laws.
Life is sad and tedious enough without dragging in asshole invented gods and "morality police" to make it sadder. There's only 6 inches difference, anyway (and maybe only usually) between happy prostitutes and the always sainted girls who dance with sailors at the USO. People need to have fun, and, minus sickness, unwanted pregnancy, and always irrelevant religious guilt, there's nothing wrong with having fun...
...except STD's, pregnancy, and religion (and capitalism and almost all the stupid politicians we're now suffering). But get rid of those inconveniences, something fairly easy for civilized intelligent people to do, and we could have a lot less war movies and a lot more movies unequivocally celebrating happy prostitutes.
Life without death - how would that be?
Why do we have to grow old and die? To make room for others exactly like us to ask why they have to grow old and die? Right or wrong, you may think you find that ecologically logical answer to be unacceptably offensive. But I ask you this: if you were immortal, wouldn't you be asking why we have to go on and on living forever, never to escape from this endless desert of life? Maybe not.
But - I'll say I'm positive that, IF the indefinite prolongation of life were ever achieved for everyone, there'd have to be some changes in what's now popular philosophy.
Q: Could religion survive, for instance, without a general certainty of death? If all people live long enough to grow up intellectually? When its outdated proscriptions become handicaps?
Even surer than that, if we all kept staying here, everyone would HAVE TO finally admit that no new people could be born, or that the birth rate must be held to just the trickle needed to replace the accidental dead. And surely that realization would HAVE TO be justified by putting away the myth of the soul, since you couldn't have all those souls lined up waiting for bodies if there weren't going to be any new bodies.
In fact, realistic realization might replace unrealistic denial as a defense mechanism, since the deliberate elimination of so many never-to-be-born humans as a very practical necessity could only be accepted by admitting that there is very little individualism, anyway (i.e. that we're as clonish as cats), that our will to live is ours, not any god's, and that, indeed, the concepts of a god, of a soul and an afterlife, of the sanctity of unborn life, of the checklist of virtues required to get in on an afterlife - are all contemptible rationalizations compared to the reality of our simple fear of death.
In fact, just the necessity of legitimizing our fear of death in order to legitimize near total birth suppression and to rationalize the necessary and probably careless disposal of the Paradise myth (along with all its previously cherished but trumped-up importance) and the unborn-soul myth (along with all its previous trumped-up importance) should be enough to absolutely require and guarantee the substitution of realism for religion.
And what about this? Do you think 80% of humanity would go along century after century with an arrangement whereby 20% get all the goodies and the rest just whistle? No way. We'd have communism damned quick - or we'd have some blood.
Popular philosophy is usually only the whining of old men afraid to die, a waste of thinking energy that, for a relatively immortal human race, would have to be spent figuring out, planning, and implementing the best workable way to get along with each other and make the best of our (still, I guarantee) too short lives while we're living them.
Agreeing with Epicurus
The logical purpose of human life, said Epicurus, is to seek pleasure and avoid pain.
life is full of contradictions, and my life's full of just one contradiction: the surest way to seek pleasure is to eat and the surest way to avoid pain is NOT to eat.
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