In the old version of my weekly newsletter, I would often include a section called Living in the Jackpot. The Jackpot was a term that the Sci-Fi writer William Gibson came up with in his book The Peripheral.
[The Jackpot is an] account of a coming apocalypse. [...] “It’s multi-causal, and it’s of extremely long duration,” he explains. Over many decades, climate change, pollution, drug-resistant diseases and other factors [...] The Jackpot is the mundane cataclysm of modernity itself. It is hundreds of millions of people driving to the supermarket in their SUVs, flying six times a year, and eating medicated animals for dinner. “If the Jackpot is going to happen,” Gibson says, “it’s already happening. It’s been happening for at least 100 years.” (Source)
In the last edition of the newsletter, I wrote about how doing daily writing M-F is a way for me to "show my work" as I try to think through the different ways that I might try to,
stand in opposition to the worst that humans can do to themsves, others, and the environment that sustains us. Or, to put it slightly differently, both psychoanalysis and social work that does not suck represent how I'm working through my own intense dislike of bullies.
Today I'm thinking about how the demand that we need to be comfortable, happy, and enjoying ourselves is a sort of bully, and the different effects this bully has. One of the effects I think it is having is turning up the heat on The Jackpot, and I don't think that is good.
The question on my mind today is, what can I do to stand in opposition to the demand that we be comfortable, happy, and enjoy ourselves in a way that does not suck?
I say "in a way that does not suck" because I don't want to take a stand against all enjoyment. That would be dumb. Not all enjoyment is bad or destructive. Sometimes being happy is a natural and normal way to feel in response to what is happening in our lives. Being comfortable is something that can be great --I'd just like to see access to comfort producing things and stuff distributed in more equitable ways.
Also, most people don't like being preached at by some moralistic person who wants to make them feel guilty. Being said moralistic person is a good way to make sure people don't listen to you.
I believe thinking through this stuff starts with examining me and my own relationship to a desire to be comfortable. If I can find a way to explore the negative effects of my own addiction to comfort, without my superego chiming in and making me feel like I'm an awful person for having the comfort I have, then maybe I can discover ways of engaging with other people. Perhaps I can create ways of speaking about this that others could hear and take in instead of ways that will activate their defenses.
So, here I am today, writing this, wondering: How can I explore different ways to oppose the addiction to enjoyment turn me --that make all of us-- into someone who can easily choose avaricious short-term comfort over the enjoyment of generosity and long-term sustainability?
That is where I am. I've got lots of questions. Not many answers.
I think this is something I'll be exploring for the rest of the week, perhaps longer. I hope you'll join me, and if you have thoughts about this, please send them my way!