Friday, 19 August 2011

Unmindful hedonism, futile destruction

Seems to me a more mindful approach to living in the present, a truer acceptance of our mortality, is actually at the opposite end of the sort of socially dangerous hedonism that exploded in our cities recently.

I mention this because "living in the moment" can be misinterpreted as living for the moment and the hell with the consequences. And because the rioters and looters I heard interviewed were really enjoying themselves. One of them said that of course he could afford to buy the trainers he'd nicked, but he'd enjoyed taking them for free. (Least, I think that's what he said - he was a little over-excited.) He also seemed to feel completely invulnerable, and certain the police wouldn't catch up with him, even when he was told that they had arrested 700 of his playmates.

I'm not touting a lack of mindfulness as "the cause" of what happened, but there is a link to be drawn, I think, between a directionless hedonism and our lack of insight into the nature of human life and death. Hovering your cursor over my title will take you a really good post on the GFG that has interesting things to say about this, and I've repeated my own comment just in case you don't go to the GFG post!

"What a great post. Cadaverous has got it, and so has his mate, with his pithy note that “consumer capitalism is driven by death energy.” The hedonic cycle is a displacement mania to avoid the truth of our life and its end.

We commoditise human relationships, even friendship, at our peril; we look for fulfilment in new things, where it can’t be found for long.

If we can accept the fact of our own mortality and live in full understanding that life is limited and full of risk and imperfection, rather than trying to turn ourselves into shiny things; if we can confront the fact of our own deaths, we might just live truly in the present a little more. We might understand that happiness isn’t free electronic gear."

And now hundreds of young people have seriosuly damaged their life choices for a night's fun and a flat-screen telly, and thousands of people damaged in various ways by those nights are left wondering...why?


  1. "...understand life is full of risk and imperfection rather than trying to turn ourselves into shiny things"

    That is just so beautifully put GM. And has moved me very much. I was going to add a few pars by way of comment to this post but I can't seem to get beyond these two lines, through which you have encapsulated it all.


  2. My dear CB, thanks for these kind words - it is always good to feel one has connected with people/a person! Though you do run the risk of encouraging me to write more...and more....
    Pleased you had good hols, and welcome back.

  3. I love 'death energy'.

    I'm lucky. I've inherited my mother's gene. She shed everything before she died and I find myself doing the same.

    At the Six Feet Under Convention there was a woman who'd just been told she has weeks to live. There was something rapturous about her. She was enjoying every last minute of just... being. No bitterness, no fear, just a huge sense of wonder at the world as it is.


  4. Totally so. You have it in "just...being." Inspirational.
    Divesting - how wise, Charles.