Prolegomena Fragment: Work Left Undone

But now food, clothing and shelter are in abundance. He has worked diligently to construct a system (through exchange, specialization and communication) to make available and abundant both security and energy, but yet what does he do? He works to expand this system, to make more security and energy, and to reproduce them in new forms. He works ever harder to collect more of the things he already has. His original project of sustaining his own life is merely amplified. Man has the opportunity today for something more, something beyond the base elements of his survival, yet he does not try for it.

Multiple homes, huge wardrobes of clothing, whatever food he wants available to him whenever he desires it--none contribute significantly beyond what has been achieved already. He has simply restated the terms of his survival in more plentiful, more luxurious forms. He has not decided upon any end goal for the achievement of his survival. So he continues to collect more food, clothing and shelter. He is a collector. He never seems to have enough. Western man has become a storehouse of security, with the marginal utility of more security effectively zero.

Today he works ever harder for the latest repackaging of security that is sold to him. Men live in a spirit of competitive collection, each working to possess a better version of what is currently celebrated and promoted.

But after he has his food, clothing and shelter he should ask: “And how now should I live?”

Those who ask the question ask it too late. Man often asks himself how he should live when there are cracks in his system, in old age, or when his health is deteriorating. He does not question how he should act when he has both his physical capacities and the food, clothing and shelter to survive. Hence many men die regretful, with the feeling that there must have been something more to life, something else, some other work left undone.

He remains essentially a slacker, hoping to avoid work or survive with a minimum of it. He continues to despise work as if the energy expended posed a risk to his life--as it once did. Yet the hardest work is to be done after the threshold of food, clothing and shelter has been achieved. The work of greatness is possible then. The work of becoming something beyond the animal that has learned to survive best. It is the work that exists beyond economics and the systems he has constructed. It is the work for which there is no return. It is work that contributes nothing to his security. And it is dangerous work because it will isolate him from other men.

His instincts are those of the Pleistocene, though he lives in a time of abundance.

For 99% of his history man has struggled daily to survive. His desire for food, clothing and shelter is a central component in his genetic makeup, and, due to its overriding power, one difficult to fully satisfy. The work of greatness will be an overcoming of the genetics common to all men, as well as those specific varations he has inherited from his parents. He will need also to overcome the systems he was born into and the other men, both past and present, with whom he shares a culture. There is great work still undone.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Copyright © Moraline Free