Taking things for granted

Much of the humor of the Louis CK clip below derives from the fact that he is right: we take things for granted. We take things for granted not because (or not primarily because) they are always there, a permanent, stable presence we can rely on. We take them for granted because of their impermanence, their fleeting presence that is largely disconnected from other things. In our consumer society where increasingly the production and reproduction (i.e., planned obsolescence) of things presupposes their replacement, we become in turn increasingly focused on the thing’s immediacy. Unlike the Buddhist (or Spinozist) detachment from things, and in particular the ego, which is inseparable from an appreciation of the connection and significance of all things, we have largely become anti-Buddhist (anti-Spinozist) in that we have become detached from the connection and significance of all things only to become all the more attached to the immediacy of the things before us. Louis CK drives this point home:

2 thoughts on “Taking things for granted

  1. I am so tempted to agree profusely with this. I will say though, we let the Industrial Revolution slip through our fingers, which is part of why we take things for granted. We are not peers with different priorities. There’s industrialists/inventors and there’s laborers/secretaries. This is a completely artificial separation that we accepted through negligence. So naturally the consumer whines about not getting served by her iPhone quickly enough, whereas the techie wants it to play old console games. Neither of these two hypothetical individuals can stand being in the same room with the other.

    But the labels are glass ceilings and stilts. The techie really isn’t accomplishing much with his hacked iPhone Nintendo and the consumer ruins her own satisfaction by yelling at an inanimate object. How did we get here?

    I have found that I enjoy things best when I am willing to acquaint myself with the related details and accessories. Appreciation means being active. The satisfaction is not from achieving a goal but is an emergent side effect of being in motion, of doing. You can’t appreciate anything if you’re brain is still wearing its pajamas.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree. And I think another of Louis C.K’s talents is in pointing out the ridiculousness of the idea (which somehow still pervades almost all aspects of our commodity driven life) that continuous growth is a plausible notion.

    History has proven and again, and yet we time and again we choose to ignore it, that nothing can grow without already containing within it the materials necessary for its own destruction.

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