August 03, 2013

Saturday Morning Essay: Ordinary Pleasures

Brought to you by Peet's Major Kong blend...

From across the pond that separates my Pond from the Old World:

As to your battles with the economic hierarchy, I've always been a little leery of Krugman's righteousness.  With my coffee, I get his column each Saturday morning, as he is syndicated in the International Herald Tribune, the newsprint that keeps me connected with "home."  I mean, the iPad is great, but you know, coffee and the newspaper on a Saturday morning.  I think these electrified kids of today are missing out on something.  So, Krugman, yeah - he just seems so exasperated with how stupid the rest of the world is.

Bingo on all points.  It's true, kids and vid-heads everywhere: there are few pleasures to match a genuine newspaper, on real newsprint, with a good cup of coffee on an open-ended Saturday morning.  This is remembering the Sabbath and keeping it righteously holy.  My correspondent, in days of yore, used to read of a Saturday morning the Los Angeles Times cover to cover while living on one South Coast, with the pleasant tang of Orange County fog in the air; and now reads the IHT on the south coast of another country, under skies of a more determined overcast,  no doubt with the same thoroughness.  Such feasts are moveable, as Papa told us.

As to the remarks about Paul Krugman: see what I mean?  See what I've been trying to tell you? Mr. Krugman, ace economic scientist, does not suffer the fools of the world gladly, and from his perspective there are so many to choose from.  Essentially, anyone who disagrees with the proposition that the world's economic ills could be quickly cured with a dose of standard "textbook" Keynesian ministrations. That is all that stands between us and Easy Street.  A failure to listen to Mr. Krugman.

The truth is otherwise, as we will find out as history rolls on.  Times change, and America is changing with it.  It's not going to be 1964 here again, although in 1964 the newspapers were much, much better. Sigh.  Jerry Mander, in his The Capitalist Papers, his magnum opus, his own version of Somerset Maugham's The Summing Up, calls himself a "neo-Luddite," and makes the salutary point that not all technological developments enhance human happiness.  So far, far from it.  A few inventions he wishes had never happened: television and cell phones.  We're determined to make life easy, indolent and "seamless" and in the process we're losing sight of how many genuine pleasures only come about through diligence and thorough practice.  All of the real arts, for example.  Anything worthwhile, for another example.  And the beauty of the world stands a much better chance of surviving if we leave the video caves and behold it directly, and see, in its physical immediacy, its wondrous glory.

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