Quo vadis,Luxury

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Economic dodos even study these cycles of stupidity pontificating, with colored pie charts and factitious, “horoscopic” mathematical theorems, on how it is just ...

Quo vadis, Luxury

This essay is dedicated to my beloved Sarah who has been an unfailing infuence in the creation of it...

I am nauseated. Appalled. Not a day passes that the two Western Civilizations (Europe & the DisUnited States) do not fre up my ire. The only solace I embrace is that both WCs (WC I & WC II) are more outraged with themselves than I am with them. I ask myself: How may I be satisfed knowing this? I just cannot. Everywhere my eyes see for me, I am reminded of William Blake's couplet: A mark in every face I meet, Marks of weakness, marks of woe, One should think that with all the attention that is allocated to health, diet and exercise by the proud, greedy and jingoistic, there would be at least some somebodies basking themselves in the sunshine of their lives. But no. Everyone is afutter. Strained. Running helter-skelter. I sense I must break loose...the same sensation that vexed me in Caracas, Venezuela a bit before the city, senseless, careless and hopeless, broke into a bloodcurdling violence that wiped out two thousand people over one weekend. I feel I am smothered by self-serving simpletons who care nothing for the society they pertain to and expect only to gratify—the faster the better—their personal cravings for appointments and trappings. They do not consume to possess; rather, they are possessed to consume and fail to take into account that half the world subsists on subunits each day. When hundreds of millions of earthlings are addicted to such a dog-eat-dog modus vivendi, only this clear-cut conclusion might be drawn: We are living in very dangerous times. (I've got to get out of this place!) Ante bellum? It used to be that clothes made the man or the woman, but today it is obvious that the fashion industry makes the designer and the manufacturer who, in turn, churn out the rough and tumble wearing apparel business...whether you

like it or not. A sort of pop culturalism gone in reverse, especially pertinent when one thinks that Design has supplanted Beauty during our mad rushes to conform and earn. At this point, therefore, we can say that in fashion anything goes! Anything that sells. As long it is stereotyped. It will never be fashionable to go around naked, will it? Why? We would have to sift forever to fnd an enterpriser more dopey than one who today produces exemplars of opulence—The Trinkets of Vulgarity—such as bags, luxurious vehicles, private jets, haute couture clothing, accessories, yachts, designer clothes, luggage, shoes, watches, jewelry, and then some more. Anything that takes us away from what we are—to a dream world of what we might want to be but never will be. There is even a glut of “privileged conspicuous consumption” in view, but targeted to only a few: those who can render it! Jean-Jacques Rousseau: “Luxury corrupts at once rich and poor, the rich by possession and the poor by covetousness. It sells the country to softness and vanity, and takes away from the State all its citizens, to make them slaves one to another, and one and all to public opinion.” Need more be said? You, betcha! It is not the economy. It is the human being. It is unquestionably imprudent to think otherwise. Ever since 1601 when the English East India Company dispatched its frst outing to the New World in search of ill-gotten gains—thus “inventing” capitalism—there has been a knee-jerk reaction to the accumulation of wealth as if it were some sanctifed system, for the good of all, at the expense of workers sweating to accrue it for their persons in charge, and an arrangement, while not perfect, that is the best of all those available. Time and time again this pact has degenerated systematically into chaos and has caused immeasurable misery for hundreds of millions hoping to receive some “small change” from this frequently corrupt, obviously fawed, unsigned treaty coordinated between employee and employer—but by the employer. Economic dodos even study these cycles of stupidity pontifcating, with colored pie charts and factitious, “horoscopic” mathematical theorems, on how it is just normal that fractures in the technique of administering an economy and fnancing its stock market are a matter of historically recurring routine. Creative destruction. (William H Gross, once managing director of

Pacifc Investment Management [www.pimco.com] and Las Vegas blackjack expert, is reputed to use gaming juju when calculating stock buys; and, my uncle Lester Wood, Merrill Lynch executive in the old days, told me fat out: “Gamble the [stock] market to lose.”) Will someone please tell me when this 400-year-old ruse used deceptively to gain another’s confdence, this swindle, will pass into oblivion for the good of all of us? Why are we so greedy and corrupt? Do desires to encounter pleasure instead of pain rule our behavior? Why this preponderance of interest in pleasure over pain? Of course, there is nothing per se reprehensible about wanting to enjoy pleasurable experiences. Yet, what if we think that perhaps 50% of the world lives on a couple of dollars? Are we not swimming into deep ethical waters, where it could easily be argued that the pain of the rest of the world is also our own. Do we not have some ethical, common sense responsibility to alleviate the infictions of others? At least recognize that they exist? And not just for some religious motive. For one that depends on our own survival. Alain Minc, in his Le Nouveau Moyen Âge (Gallimard, 1993), hinted at the idea that Europe (Western Civilization I) was overwrought with hedonism, and he mentioned the possibility that the Old Continent risked a breaking up into organized, criminal factions that might take over democratic processes which, over the years, could deteriorate because of the greed and corruption that has permeated them. There is defnitely a “Pall of Incertitude” hanging over Europe, and indeed the DisUnited States of America, that suggests that Western Civilization is under social, economical and political scrutiny—by itself, by others. Asia! In Italy, just recently, it was reported that in Germany the idea has been bantered about to dress overactive children in jackets flled with sand to keep them fxed in their seats at school! Italian mothers furiously opposed the sentiment. But what must strike one as even more absurd, is that European mothers and fathers—going on three millennia now!—have not learned to raise their children properly! Not to say that members of Western Civilization II have! Worst of all, there is no call to fnd out why kids can't keep still! Authored by Anthony St. John 2 February MMXVIII Calenzano, Italy www.scribd.com/thewordwarrior Twitter: @thewordwarrior