Saturday, May 2, 2015

costly and expensive lifestyle


Acquisition is sometimes costly, but morality is expensive. Perhaps for this reason the wealthy are envied and elevated: It's easier and easier to get a social handle on. And perhaps too, this accounts for the arm-twisted, acquired morality that infuses so many movements and claims one throne or another. Morality as an acquisition is something that can produce a tangible income and status.

I guess this started floating around in my mind when I was tooling around the television channels, looking for a few alpha waves, when I came across a program in which house-hunters are shown looking for new digs. What the attraction to the program is, I'm not entirely sure, but I am sure that the cavalier renovations that seem to be part of the conversation about a house in the $500,000 range is outside any bomb zone I have. The house looks wonderful to me ... why mess with it? Taste is taste but does a roof over your head need elaborate repair? I suppose it does, but there is something egregious about it for me. Is a dream come true fulfilled with a marble counter top or a 'modern' update that will become 'ancient' in no time flat?

All of this is just my stupidity and in no way a criticism. But I do wonder, if I hadn't seemed drawn to what might be called morality ... boy! imagine how much energy I could have put into being rich and with it and au courant. On the one hand, I don't regret the course I took. On the other, a little more jam on the social toast might have been nice.

Benjamin Disraeli
As a pipe dream all of this collapses when I realize I don't much like to be around people who live according to their acquisitions. I don't mind the acquisitions, I just don't care for the outlook. Something within me asks "where's the beef?" Where is the substance -- admirable or icky -- to such people? Is it in a third bathroom, a Windsor chair or a designer toilet brush? Reading a biography of Benjamin Disraeli by author Andre Maurois, I am struck throughout by the presumptuous, almost lackadaisical, backdrop of wealth. The man was famous, but I get no sense of what used to be called his 'sand.' Outside wealth and privilege, why should I credit this man? You'd think a writer might want to prove the case.

Taste is taste and sometimes mine strikes me as rather arrogant. Morality is a luxury item in one sense when the general course is acquisitiveness that hungers endlessly. Why not join the party? It's all the social rage. Anyone with that third bathroom and myriad friends knows what a fool the moral (wo)man is.

Well, it's too late now. And it's just a taste I am responsible for.

Norman Finkelstein, the bad-boy Jew who calls Israel out in its self-absorbed decimation of the Palestinians, once described his upbringing in Brooklyn as living in a neighborhood and among people who were all "elbows" -- needing to fight and elbow their way to a greater success and position and wealth. I like the image: Elbows. I guess everyone has got elbows, would like the status and comfort that elbows can provide. What begins as a matter of survival, however, has every capacity to become a bit of social righteousness and self-worth: What I need to survive becomes what I demand as rightfully mine. A third bathroom IS the one true means of happiness.

Morality, whatever it may mean, means a willingness to reflect and, if necessary, to sacrifice this acquisitive self. That is expensive. It may cost something as well, but it is centrally expensive in ways that may promote decency but also topple pedestals. It's not easy to be unimportant. And worse than being unimportant, it's also not virtuous. It's just taste.

I guess I just hate anchovies.

1 comment:

  1. Virtue and morality seem to be "eye of the beholder" sorts of things.