Monday, 29 September 2014

carrot and stick or being there

Maria Popva of Brain Pickings presents a delightful and an importantly provocative abstract on a 2007 anthology from British philosopher Alan Watts on timing, savouring presence and the modern aversion towards reflection as it comes usually at the expense of expediency—and more importantly what our gimmick-based market is premised on.

Watts dares to ask the strictly taboo question, what is this quality of life that we are striving for—through exercise, electronic crutches and healthy diets, no matter how artisanal. And while some things are done for their own sake and many find the meaning in all they see and do, the nature of this aim for good, “were it seriously investigated,” observes Watts, “the whole economy and social order would fall apart and have to be re-organised…it would be like the donkey finding out that the carrot dangled before him, to make him run, is hitched to his own collar.” Regardless of our gait—galloping or resigned—steady but not dedicated since that spectre of a goal is just out of our reach and does not much tax the imagination to come up with our own ideal, it is as if we have forgotten what to do with that prize, if we were able to finally catch it. The essay highlights Watts’ hopeful and inspiring sense of syncopation and draws in the complementary thoughts of other thinkers.