It is Christmas day. Well, what of it? Going to see Nephew, his wife and dog, and his mother. Now that is OK. Will drag some O2 bottles and maybe the concentrator.
But that is not what I wanted to talk about.
I feel pretty GOOD! Really. The past two weeks or so I have improved a lot. I can move around. Now recall that it wasn’t that long ago that I could not get from the bedroom to the bathroom, all of ten feet, without getting a coughing fit and having to sit down. It was back then that a shower was hellish as I would run out of breath and (cough, cough) have to sit for more than a few minutes to get my Os back up.
I recall the first couple of times taking a walk with the physical therapy woman and it was all slow and wobbly and uncertain and the like.
Well, I’ll take now over then for certain.
BIRDS: The rear of the apartment behind the kitchen is a room that exits to the back yard, so to speak. S put some bird feeders out there and there are now ten or more birds at a time flitting around. Several different species, and I forget them at the moment, but they seem to mostly get along although kind of in flights of the same kind. Groupings sort of. Like people, but without guns.
And of course, looking at all of that I then think about all the dying species on the planet because of a relatively small group of plunderers grabbing the last drops of oil and the last puffs of natural gas for money they don’t need. And I think of all those politicians, you know the ones, who help these criminals do their deeds. It is amazing. The arctic is melting and warming at an alarming rate which is going to fuck up the weather for much, if not all, of the globe. And those guys, including the lunatic and his gang of thugs in the White House, yell out that climate change is a hoax. And about half the voting population of this country is fine with that, even if they have no idea what anyone is talking about. And so on and so forth.
Remember me talking about doing a study on loneliness? Nope? I see that I haven’t talked about it yet after all. A month or so back I ran across a BBC video on loneliness and it piqued my interest. There wasn’t much data or science in the film, but the interviews and a smidgen of statistics were good enough for me at the time. Well, I put some notes into a file and soon forgot about it. I would occasionally think about it and lament to myself that I have very little interest in, well, anything right now. Or right then. But I do. And feeling so much better of late I had the luck to run across a Maria Popovich article in her “Brain Pickings” blog by Hanna Arendt (whom I have recently been reading about – I forget why. And then there is a book I am purusing called “The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone”. The first pages are, predictable with and introduction full of quotes by famous dead people from Aristotle on. And they are all about how we are social creatures. And that is were I am right now. The point is, things are kind of coming together.
Optional thoughts on being alone follow:
My intuitive sense is, and has been, that mostly, and I mean REALLY mostly, we need to be among others of our species. Sociology supports this in a myriad of ways. Durkheim’s notion of Anomie, and Marx’s of Alienation are my two favorite references. There is also Tonnies and his notions of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft (community and society). All seem to believe that Western society was headed for serious trouble with the advent of industrialization and the end of the small farming communities.
Regardless, the being alone thing, from my own experience, is that less stuff gets done, what does is without outside evaluation so remains in a fog, drinking from boredom is very, very easy, my thinking is dull and I crave stimulation. That and developing a habit of talking to myself, which does not do well when I am in a social setting make for a strange brew.
So, roughly, my hypothesis is that with the industrial revolution began the atomization of people. I mostly think of Marx regarding this. Marx spoke of “alienation”. Alienation from one’s work (factories), from other people (the loss of social commonalities), and the alienation from one’s self. Well, good so far. Leaning on Marx is sort of OK again since the last financial disaster of 2008. But while he seems to be the best historical and economic basis for predicting how things have turned out, Durkheim saw how people lost their social cohesiveness from such social upheavals.
But to continue again towards the present, as the industrial age (which Rifkin refers to as the age of oil) evolves into what is called “modernity” we see a new emphasis upon material acquisition, that is, having lots of things. One of the stories goes that it was from the automobile industry, per the influence of a Robert Lowe, that having a new model car every year generated consumer interest in buying new cars. Apply this to virtually everything. Bang, we are on our way. Now, in America particularly, something else happened that I don’t think that our two dead heroes imagined: suburbia and homeownership. This is post WWII of course and America, white America anyway, was drunk on having stuff, and yards, and cars, and funny looking clocks on the wall and all the rest.
But even without the catalyst of suburbia and the freeway and the loss of public transportation to individual car ownership, people were drifting apart. Even families were breaking up as it became “normal” for the children to eventually leave the home to go create their own home and family, and often at great distances away from their parents. And as I think that, back to those three dead heroes, Marx, Durkheim and Tonnies, I believe that it is indeed due to the breakup of social systems previously dependent upon cooperation and now obsessed with specialization, individuality, status and the mad desire for wealth that we see the resultant atomization of humans, at least in America.
Thus, the ultimate outcome: Loneliness. Isolation. Disassociation. Fear. Mistrust of others. And so on and so forth.
Painting by Jan Matejko, 1862
While there is a good deal of effort to push things in the opposite direction, understandably on a micro scale, I see the majority of America and some other countries, perhaps Japan being one of them, really just fucking lonely.
I really think I am losing interest in this topic.