Minimalism lite

Which way, Western Man?

I live on less than USD $30 per day.

Planning to travel light while in Philippines, I gave away my mocha pot to an appreciative Eritrean and decided to make do with instant coffee until I settled down.

Anywhere in the Philippines, a sachet of Nescafe is cheap and available from any corner sari sari store.

Little known fact:

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Am I the crazy one?

When everyone else seems to be going crazy and you’re the only sane one, it’s reasonable to stop and wonder if they’re right.

Maybe the CIA has not planted a hidden camera in your toilet. Maybe there are not beetles crawling all over your skin. Maybe you can’t really fly and should get down off that ledge.

There are two reasons my reality seems significantly different to that of many others.

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No blubbing

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Apparently there’s some sort of election going on in America.

I don’t keep a close eye on politics in the capitalist states, but I do recall that the last time around a few supporters of the losing team reacted in a way that did little to enhance their dignity.

This time around, no one knows who’ll win. The polls are unreliable. Trump’s Boomercons are fired up and Biden’s hidin’, but don’t discount the 40% who think Trump is the kid from The Omen grown up.

Trump could lose.

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Weighing the costs

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There’s no perfect decision.

Now that we’re a democracy, every Tom, Dick and Haresh has an opinion on every political issue. All three know exactly how high our tariffs should be on imported vehicles, what type of submarine the navy needs, and how many skilled migrants should be admitted each year.

What they have trouble realizing is, every issue is a trade-off. Tariffs on cars will protect local manufacturers, but they’ll make prices more expensive for consumers. The more we spend on submarines, the less money we have for long-range missiles. The pros and cons of skilled migration are complex.

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The release of aging

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I always thought, as a kid, that growing old would be awful because you’d be aware that you have less and less time ahead of you.  As a teenager I thought how depressing it would be, thirty years old, working every day, with no childhood to return to, only old age ahead.  This feeling was enhanced by the fact that my teenage years were not fantastic, and that the adults around me said they were the best years of my life.

Now that I’m forty, I see things differently.  The first reason is practical: Read More

The case for permanent lockdown

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It might sound crazy but hear me out.

When I use the term ‘lockdown’, I mean setting strict regulations on when we may leave the house and the number of people who may gather in one place, enforced wearing of masks, and restrictions on where we may travel.

We’ve never previously managed to create a safe and effective vaccine against a coronavirus.  This forces us to consider the very real possibility that we may never Read More

Clinical depression or life circumstances?

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[Written in Africa]

I have felt depressed during most of my time here but never once have I considered taking myself off to a psychiatrist to get pumped full of cheering drugs that are possibly dangerous and apparently work little better than a placebo anyway.  Nor would I bother with any counseling.

The reason is simple: my depression is caused by living in a place I don’t want to be, doing things I don’t want to do, sometimes with people I’d rather avoid.  The solution to the depression is therefore to finish up and leave, which I am about to do.  If, after laying on a beach for a few months, I’m still depressed, then I might consider if there’s a deeper problem.  But I doubt it will come to that.

The two previous times I’ve experienced depression were Read More

Intellectuals are bad, mmkay?

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Book review of Intellectuals, by Paul Johnson.

There are very few books that I have read twice.  One was The Lord of the Rings, which I read when I was eight and later when I was fifteen and actually understood it.  The only other I can remember off the top of my head is this one.  I happened to look something up for some reason, got distracted by the chapter on Sartre, and ended up reading the whole thing again.  The antics of this intellectual crowd are highly entertaining.  My favourite was the list of drunken injuries that befell Hemmingway, which stretches over three or four mirthful pages.

I thought about inserting here a check-table of intellectuals and their sins but concluded it would be too much work and you wouldn’t be that impressed anyway.  So instead I will Read More

The thoughts of an emperor

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Book review of Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius.

Poor old Marcki-poo.  High-born and bookish, he wanted nothing more than to go to Athens and study philosophy.  But duty called him to other things: in the age of the Five Good Emperors, starting with Hadrian, each new one was chosen for his virtues rather than because he was the son of the old one – though none of the previous four had had sons, so that was easily done.  And Marcus Aurelius felt the unwanted tap on the shoulder.

He insisted, against the wishes of the elite, that his Read More

Without fatherhood, men have no emotional investment in their communities.

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The title of this post is quoted from a comment in a blog somewhere, and it immediately struck me as true.

I once said to a friend (who has two kids) that I didn’t care about the environment because I have no children, and he said, “Well you’re a bit of a cunt then, aren’t you?”

I guess I am, but that’s the way it is.

I care not a jot about Read More

Though this be madness, yet there is a method in’t

You know when a nutter does something crazy, like the guy in Melbourne who hit a bunch of people in his car for no reason or the one in Japan who stabbed a whole lot of disabled people, you wonder: how mad is he, really?  Certainly there is some madness there, but there might be some method, and some plain old evil, involved as well.

Around here there are a lot of crazy people.  They spend all day Read More

Chesterton’s fence

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Another of G.K. Chesterton’s pithy little paradoxes that I like is the one about the fence.  To paraphrase: a man sees a fence sitting in a field for no apparent reason.  He laughs.  What a stupid place to put a fence, he says!  If no one even knows why it’s there, let’s tear it down and make life easier for ourselves.

But Chesterton wisely cautions, we should pursue the exact opposite course of action.  If we cannot figure out why the fence is there, we’d best Read More

Life: adventure or ordeal?

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H.L. Menken is very worried about who’s a first-rate man and who’s a fourth-rate one.  No doubt he puts himself in the first category, and then he ranks men according to how similar they are to him.  Professionals or tradesmen of some sort?  Second-rate!  Except newspaper editors, of course, because he was one.  Married family guys?  Rubbish!  Foreign-born philanderers?  Now you’re talking.

One of his litmus tests for measuring human worthiness interests me greatly.  Higher men, Menken decrees, view life as an adventure to be relished, while the lower sort see it as an ordeal to be endured.

This makes sense.  Once a man reaches an advanced level of accomplishment and philosophy, is he not in a better position to relish what’s on offer?  He has Read More

Freedman

Pessoa wrote:

Freedom is the possibility of isolation.  You are only free if you can withdraw from men and feel no need to seek them out for money, or society, or love, or glory, or even curiosity, for none of these things flourish in silence and solitude.  If you cannot live alone, then you were born a slave.  Though you may be possessed of every superior quality of spirit and soul, you are still nothing more than a noble slave or an intelligent serf, you are not free.  But that is not your tragedy, for the tragedy of being born like that is not yours but Destiny’s.  Woe betide you, though, if the very weight of life itself makes you a slave.  Woe betide you if, having been born free and capable of providing for yourself and leading a separate existence, penury forces you into the company of others.  That tragedy is yours alone, which you alone must bear.

Some people are suited to work.  Almost everybody, in fact, but good luck getting them to admit it.  A UBI would destroy the average man, turn him into a criminal, a drug addict, a member of the Underclass.  At the very least make him fat.  Most people get meaning, social connection and a sense of accomplishment from work.  They get promotions and go up levels and receive new desks and baubles and recognition, just like in a computer game.  For that matter, I don’t enjoy computer games much either.

As a young man, like every other troubled young man with more brains than sense, I read Notes From The Underground and it, like, really spoke to me, man, I really got it.  And all that nonsense.  We were supposed to view the narrator with contempt, but I kinda liked him.  He’s a lot like me – weird, oversensitive, unpopular, arrogant and he probably smells bad too.  He says at the start that he’d inherited a little money from an aunt and that it was just enough for him to retire and live a frugal life without needing to go out into the world and do any more work.

I thought, I’d kiss a cow’s arse for that.  I’d give my left ball for that.  I’d draw my Gran’s beating heart and present it to munificent Kali for that.  Think of it!  Never needing to work, ever again!  Being free!

The reader might here be misunderstanding me.  I’m not especially lazy – having things to do is fine.  Rather, what I abhor about work, and I think here I’m as one with Pessoa, is needing to deal with people.  All day, every day.  All those workplace dramas, politics and stresses, faux pas, lunatics, angry people, disappointed faces, mistakes, inadequacies, insecurities, and on and on.

To be free of it . . .

Not free to necessarily sit on a beach and drink cocktails, or to work on magnificent projects, or to chase magnificently nubile ladies.  Just free to not have to deal with all of that trouble.  Not rapture, not ecstasy; just a mild and reasonable freedom, like what an eccentric English gentleman might once have had when he collected stamps or shrunken Papuan heads.

I think this is what my life has always been leading to, though I did not always know it.  From the first moment I became aware of this concept of freedom, it has had an allure for me like that which gold, power, fame, fast cars or beautiful women have for other men.  Saving money instinctively, without budgeting, is a natural outgrowth of this underlying desire to be at peace.

Work is not the same for all of us.  For some it is a daily horror.  Any job would be so for us – perhaps aside from home-based stenography – because it involves being out there in a world we would prefer to avoid as much as possible.

I like to go out sometimes – once or twice a week is good – but that is enough.  The rest of the time I prefer to be secluded.  I live like that on my breaks and it is not glorious, it is just . . . peaceful.  Quiet.  After holidays colleagues say I look different – cheerful, relaxed; my face gets fatter and I sometimes even smile.  Yes, me – smile!  Might I one day become one of those smiley people, like Jonty Rhodes?  Oh, that might be going too far.  Way too far.  I generally wear a beset and mournful expression.  But perhaps I might one day look less beset and mournful.  I guess that would be an improvement.

Luisman worries I’ll blow all my money.  Adam reckons I’ll get bored.  Well . . . soon we shall know.  For whatever goes wrong in my new life, you can expect to encounter reams of whining about it here on the People’s Blog.  So you’ve got that to look forward to.

 

 

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The days are long but the years are short

As has been timelessly noted, the swiftness of time’s passing is a subjective thing.

As my kind reader no doubt noticed, the first three weeks of June, 2018 were the longest in recorded history.  Nasa data confirms that the earth slowed in its orbit over this period and those three weeks actually took three months.

That was also the three weeks before my break.

The following weeks, it goes without saying, raced by with unprecedented speed.  There is presumably reliable data to back this up.

And yet, when I think of ‘last year’, the whole horrid thing seems like Read More

You just believe what you’ve been told

Yes, you do.

You.

You do.

I know that you think you’re all independent-minded and free-thinking and open to new evidence and all that.  Don’t you?

But you’re not.

At most, during your lifetime, your views will only modify a little bit.  Switch from Democrats to Republicans?  Whoop-di-doo.  Become more free-market, then less so?  Like those mites that live on your eyelids, this move is too small to see without a microscope.

I know you still don’t believe me.  You’re thinking, this guy’s full of shit.  And while you’re reading this you’re going to have a mental debate with me, thinking you’ll win.

You’ll lose.

Okay, ready?  Climb aboard the Real World Express!  Toot-toot!  No hanging your arms out the side or you’ll lose them and have to eke out a living doing gay amputee porn.

Let’s start with a few questions about your existing beliefs.  Please play along.  No sneaky skipping forward.  If you jump ahead, I will know.  And I will be very disappointed in you.

Religion

What religion Read More

The loneliness of humanity

How exciting the Age of Discovery must have been.  Men risked their lives to travel literally uncharted waters, discovering new continents, species and previously unknown peoples.  They brought back unbelievable stories of Japanese with their blackened teeth, Pacific headhunters, the human sacrifices of the Aztecs, and the advanced seafaring technology of the Chinese.

Today we peoples know each other well.  Maybe too well.  What people, now, are still exotic?  What cultural practice still surprises us?  We have grown worldly.

In those more innocent times, any problem might have its solution just around the next Read More

The broad village, the narrow world

One of G.K. Chesterton’s best paradoxes is that the world is small, the village is broad, and the family is enormous.

If one travels the world, one can locate and socialize with those who are very similar to oneself.  In a small village we must put up with all types.  And in the narrow confines of the family, we must not just tolerate but also love those who are completely unlike, and insufferable to, ourselves.  Travel limits the mind; our home town and kin broadens it.

This is even more so in the modern world.  Formerly, only the very rich, adventurous or desperate could leave their village.  Even those who sailed to the New World often did so with their family, and recreated their old village with their fellow countrymen once they arrived.

Today, any old dipshit can Read More