August 23, 2014

Saturday Morning Essay: Sublimation Time and the Livin's Too Easy

Brought to you by Peet's & Its Exploitation of Juan Valdez...

I am not necessarily claiming that this is an apothegm worthy of Heraclitus, that amazing Greek sage who gave us "character is destiny."  Yet still...after reading, again, Civilization & Its Discontents, that masterpiece written by the guy I consider the first Jewish standup comedian, the dour Sigmund Freud, laugh-a-minute chain cigar smoker, I think I may be on to something.

Civilization condemns us to a lifelong, low-grade dissatisfaction with our existence.  That is because civilization, in the final analysis, is a boring tradeoff between existential security and the forfeited instinctual drives, which were and always will be the only possible sources of true joy and ecstasy.  As Sigmund said, the attempt to satisfy the primordial urge with a sublimated, ersatz replacement, will never be the same as the "real thing." 

Thus, during an online chess game with my old neighborhood buddy, we were congratulating ourselves on the "wisdom" of older age, and it occurred to me: of course, we have never learned a single thing.  If we avoid some of the "problems" caused by the greater hormonal and energetic flux that drove us in the years that are is simply and only because we're now too tired to get into the same kind of trouble. 

And that, of course, is nothing to crow about.

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