I seen hundreds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an’ the same damn thing in their heads. Hundreds of them. They come, an’ quit an’ go on; an’ every damn one of ‘em’s got a little piece of land in his head. An’ never a God damn one of ‘em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’. I read plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land. It’s just in their head. They’re all the time talking about it, but it’s jus’ in their head.
Let boys want pleasure, and men struggle for power, and women perhaps for fame, and the servile to serve a leader and the dupes to be duped.
Yours is not theirs.
Be the worst you can beI just finished a not-so-great book by Charles Saatchi based on his answers to people’s questions. It is essentially a collection of aphorisms, some interesting and quirky and most neither.
Here are the bits I think are worth.
“Unlock yourself from the neurotic need to please. It erodes the soul”
“Life is more pleasant without asking too many questions of yourself, or seeking a higher purpose”
“Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted”
“Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm”
“Tenacity and staying resolute are simply being obstinate in a way we approve of”
“War doesn’t determine who’s right, war determines who’s left”
Q: You seem to represent all I find unpleasant about the modern world. People like me, who don’t court personal validation, believe in putting other people first. Today everything is about gratification of the self, and choosing our own happiness over anyone else’s. Whatever happened to the values I adhere to, like duty, morality, righteousness, and the belief that goodness is its own reward?
A: You may sound like a very good person, but in fact you just suffer from the disease to please. And what’s more you seem to want to be congratulated for it. Apparently, goodness is not its own reward.
Genuine living and the search for truth
From the excellent Point Counter Point, published in 1928 by Aldous Huxley:
I perceive now that the real charm of the intellectual life is its easiness. It’s the substitution of simple intellectual schemata for the complexities of reality; of still and formal death for the bewildering movements of life. It’s incomparably easier to know a lot, say, about the history of art and to have profound ideas about metaphysics and sociology, than to know personally and inituitively a lot about one’s fellows and to have satisfactory relations with one’s friends and lovers, one’s wife and children. Living’s much more difficult than Sanskrit or chemistry or economics. The intellectual life is child’s play, and it’s easier to be an intellectual child than a harmonious adult man.
People want to drown their realization of the difficulties of living properly in this grotesque contemporary world, they want to forget their own deplorable inefficiency as artists in life. Some drown their sorrows in alcohol, but still more drown them in books and artistic dilettantism; some try to forget themselves in fornication, dancing, movies, listening-in, others in lectures and scientific hobbies. The books and lectures are better sorrow-drowners than drink and fornication; they leave no headache, none of that despairing post coitum triste feeling. Till quite recently, I must confess, I took learning and philosophy and science - all the activities that are magniloquently lumped under the title of ‘The Search for Truth’ - very seriously, I regarded the Search for Truth as the highest of human tasks and the Searcherers as the noblest of men. But in the last year or so I have begun to see that this famous Search for Truth is just an amusement, a distraction like any other, a rather refined and elaborate substitute for genuine living; and that Truth-Searchers become just as silly, infantile and corrupt in their way as the boozers, the pure aesthetes, the business men, the Good-Timers in theirs.
Shall I ever have the strength of mind to break myself of these indolent habits of intellectualism and devote my energies to the more serious and difficult task of living integrally?
Nonsense at Avis Car Rental…
I booked a car with Avis a few weeks ago. I decided to pay immediately instead of paying in person when I drop the car. It sounds like the best financial option for Avis, as they get the money weeks in advance. Then I realise that the price for my rental had decreased… but if you pay immediately you lose the opportunity to be reimbursed. Oh well, for £3 difference I’m surely not going to protest.
But then I consider cancelling the booking because British Airways would give me more miles by booking with Avis at the same price, and it sounds like a no brainer. So I check if there are cancellation fees and discover that if you pay on return and cancel more than 24 hours before the rent starts there are no fees. But you are not that lucky if you paid upfront, in which case there is a £20 fee.
Why on earth should I get a worse treatment considering that I already gave my money to stupid Avis? It appears that if you pay immediately you enter an agreement with Avis Finance Company, but why oh why? This is not financing, I’m paying the full fare at booking, why do I need to go through this? And therefore (I imagine) pay £20 cancellation fee? To process the cancellation? I’m sure it’s all automated, so £20 is at least 10x what would cost them…
And besides, I clicked on “cancel booking” and immediately the booking was cancelled, without any intermediate screen or request for confirmation! Ridiculous UX fail.
The final touch to this nonsense is the refund process: “Please note that in order to obtain a refund of the amount you have paid for your reservation you must write to your local Customer Service Centre at the address set out in the Booking Terms and Conditions requesting the money be refunded.” An in case you wonder, the address is a postal address, not even an email.
Their neglect is a compliment to your mind“But when I see some wretched little scribbler with a tenth of my intelligence, making money and being cooed over, while I’m disregarded, I do get furious sometimes.”
“You ought to regard it as a compliment. If they coo over us, it’s because they can understand, more or less, what we’re after. They can’t understand you; you’re above them. Their neglect is a compliment to your mind.”
Aldous Huxley, Point Counter Point.
As Hume put it: if we take in our hands any book we possess, let us ask…
“Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames, for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.”