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Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The simple life

Not to be confused for the sheltered life.

I'm sitting outside because the weather is lovely. It's sunny and just the right amount of warm (which is reasonably cool) for the clothes I chose to wear today (shorts). In the distance, ruining it, I can hear the beat of electronic music playing in the distance designed to lure students into... whatever they have going on over there, I suppose. Over that, over here, there's the rustle of leaves and the sound of... are they crickets? They don't quite sound like crickets, but I'm positive it's an insect. It's actually he exact same sound that can be heard in Rurouni Kenshin when it's hot out and they're sitting, some of them fan in hand, and just contemplating (or sleeping). I suppose it's not unique to Rurouni Kenshin and actually applies to just about every Japanese anime that has people out in a dojo during summer. Wikipedia calls "cicada," so that's what I'm going with.

Anyway, my point is... well, I was wondering about sedentarism the sedentary lifestyle (really, English? that's not a word? Oh... sedentism). In particular, I was thinking of the relative pointlessness of it.  

Parenthèse: I have a yearning for romance, it occurs to me. It explains why I can't get the zoobi-doobi zoobi-doobi pum para... zoobi-doobi param pum out of my head.

Sedentism... pointlessness... The whole point of sedentism is doing things effectively so that you have time to spare and think and develop new ways to do more things effectively. Oh, also, society. Time to spare means time to interact and time to build relationships beyond "Let's help one another stay alive another day, why don't we?". Sedentism means having time to do things you don't absolutely have to, preferably because they're enjoyable.

Well... then why the is the less advanced form of sedentism in the form of not having to worry about a degree, or a job, or taxes so appealing? Back then (for all practical purposes let's assume an eighteenth century lifestyle) all they had to do was work (on whatever they had been assigned), make it through the day and rest whenever possible? I don't underestimate how hard the work was, but I'd like to point out it was much more directly linked to how you were going to survive for another day. Modern day society has traded that for shorter hours of meaningless work so that we may spend more time doing nothing terribly important (at least if we make sweeping generalisations) knowing that a salary is due in regular intervals of time. One way to measure the future success of a child is to offer it one cookie immediately or two some time later. The child who chooses the two cookies gets more and is more likely to get ahead in life, working longer before seeing any rewards to reap a greater benefit.

Parenthèse: Why am I so uncomfortable leaning forward on a chair? I always try to lean back into laying down position but can't quite get there, lean forward again and don't know what to do with my legs or why they built these chairs in front of the table rather than underneath them (as you'd sit on a regular chair at a desk).

On the one hand the second child gets two cookies while, on the other, the first child gets an immediate gratification. I think it's the immediate gratification that seems so tempting. If only we didn't have to do all of this waiting in the form of meaningless work, we could get to the right now (or see-how-you-get-them) rewards. I know, I know... if it weren't for the people who waited there would be no such thing as science but I want to offer a midpoint: to the truly brilliant mind that pulls ahead of society the meaningless work is not meaningless work: it is in itself a reward. The same cannot be said of the woman who cleans restrooms for a living, the waiter at a restaurant or a construction worker. And what of the rich and stupidly wealthy? Do you suppose politicians, bankers or celebrities like what they do nearly as much as they do the money and recognition that comes from it?

Sorry, my mind is not quite with me today/right now. I may continue this some other time. I may not.

Parenthèse: I suddenly went into looking at references for the first sin and got to wondering... if nudity used to not be embarrassing and I understand that eating this forbidden fruit = having sex... isn't the true crime against humanity making us ashamed of sex?

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