“‘The doer’ is merely a fiction added to the deed—the deed is everything.”—Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals, III: 13, Basic Writings of Nietzsche, ed. and trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Modern Library, 1992), p. 481.
“… Is the system going to flatten you out and deny you your humanity, or are you going to be able to make use of the system to the attainment of human purposes? How do you relate to the system so that you are not compulsively serving it? It doesn’t help to try to change it to accord with your system of thought. The momentum of history behind it is too great for anything really significant to evolve from that kind of action. The thing to do is learn to live in your period of history as a human being. That’s something else, and it can be done by holding to your own ideals for yourself and rejecting the system’s impersonal claims upon you… .”—Joseph Campbell. The Power of Myth.
Last night we went go see a performance of Gerard Grisey’s Le Noir de l’Etoile by Chicago’s Third Coast Percussion. The 6 percussionists surrounded the audience under the dome of a planetarium to perform music that was inspired by pulsars.
One listen to a recording of a pulsar demonstrates the obvious parallel between man-made percussion and the rhythms of the universe. The recording above is the Vela pulsar. The pulsar itself is comprised of the debris from a star that exploded about 10,000 years ago. The star completes a rotation every 89 milliseconds. This creates the pulsing effect. Here’s an image:
These pulsars are like incredibly accurate clocks. But they are also organic and not machine-like in nature. I am reminded of how important it is to value the artisan, the hand made, and the natural. The predictability of modern design is both an asset and a shortcoming. Manufacturing created an economy of scale but the truly accurate and efficient is still the natural byproduct of an evolving universe.
I was raised to know the value of a dollar. My parents scrimped and saved. My mother made my clothes. She cooked all of our meals. Most family vacations took place in tents. I follow those patterns. I cook at home. I don’t spend a lot on clothing. I don’t own a television or a car and any vacation is usually spent sleeping on the ground outdoors.
Some of this is due to sacrifice. I’m taking the same risk many of my generation are: long, lean hours with little financial gain. Self-investment is a risk in our culture. Debt from education. Debt from starting a business. But it even extends to the massive debt of young businesses like Facebook and Tumblr - it’s all essentially spending money to make money down the road. This is different than how the previous generation lived. Financial outlays had tangible value - cars, homes and big back yards. The two approaches are in contradistinction.
At times I worry about my path. I fear not having enough money. But I know that that worry doesn’t go away when you have money. When people have money, they fear losing money. It looms and ends up controlling you if you really, deeply care about money.
Ultimately, decisions made in of a state of fear never provide satisfying results. The only real guide that we have is our own feeling of happiness. If saving money makes you feel secure, then that is what you have to do. If risking money is what makes you feel alive, then that is what you have to do. Unless you are born into money, only time and diligence will ever make you stable. Happiness is the feeling that fuels that drive.