Was impressed by these paragraphs from John Berger’s essay, “Where are We?”, in the latest Harper’s:
Everyone wants to know that pain is endemic to life, and wants to forget this or relativize it. All the variants of the myth of a Fall from the Golden Age, before pain existed, are an attempt to relativize the pain suffered on earth. So too is the invention of Hell, the adjacent kingdom of pain-as-punishment. Likewise the discovery of Sacrifice. And later, much later, the principle of Forgiveness. One could argue that philosophy began with the question: why pain?
Yet when all this has been said, the present pain of living in the world is in some ways unprecedented. Consumerist ideology, which has become the most powerful and invasive on the planet, sets out to persuade us that pain is an accident, something that we can insure against. This is the logical basis for the ideology’s pitilessness.
Follow-up: Yesterday I bought a pair of “azalea”-colored shoes with big floral ornaments on them, in a futile attempt to make spring come NOW. I mean that metaphorically. They are very lovely, and comfortable, too — but IT’S STILL 12 DEGREES OUTSIDE AND THE WORLD IS STILL SUFFERING. John, you are so right.