Wednesday, October 03, 2018

A certain weariness of the spirit

I have been suffering from a certain weariness of the spirit, a weariness that has affected my writing. It's not depression, rather a withdrawal of joy from life. I have been trying to work out why.

I think that it's partly a function of age. Unlike some of my friends who retired some time ago, I still live in the modern world. I am still working, writing and trying to contribute. I doubt that I will ever stop until the years condemn to the point that I have no choice. Rather, it seems to be combination of two things.

The first is shortening time horizons. I am by nature something of a campaigner, someone who wants to make a contribution. As time horizons shorten, priorities becomes more important as does recognition that I will never know the results of things that I campaign for. These are hard to accept, given that I still feel much the same as did all those years ago.

The second is just accommodating to the pace of change. I was born at the end of the war. I have been though the fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties and now into the 2000s. Institution after institution, belief after belief, new vision after new vision, has been discredited and replaced.

It's probably always been the case that those living at any point believe in the divine rectitude of their own beliefs, that what they assert is right and will live for ever. I see this all the time on the social media feeds.

I know that's not true. I also know that there is no point in saying so. To a degree now. we are good at tearing down, not so good at building. We have, to my mind, moved to a more puritan age in which risk minimsation, harm minimisation, compliance have become central. I see no solution to this.

Those at least in the wealthy West no longer recognise the other. They are divided into chattering tribes who assert the rectitude of their own position and who believe, somehow, that the rest will recognise the validity of their position or, worse, must be compelled to comply. I sometimes feel that we live in an age of moral funk incapable of recognising shades, incapable of recognising that the world is not and cannot be made perfect.

I am sorry for the diatribe. I know that I am lucky. I am still relevant.

Next week I should start some contract work that will help fund my move home to Armidale. Tuesday I do a video to mark the eightieth anniversary of the foundation of the New England university College. Each day I get feedback from people who find my writing relevant. Few people could ask for more.

And yet, the weariness persists.      


2 tanners said...

It's probably about 45 years ago that Alvin Toffler discussed some of these issues. I feel for you, Jim, but I think that in the past we idealised the effects we were genuinely having. The present does seems to be more tribal and more contemptuous of facts than previously, but perhaps I mean it seems so more openly.

I do have to wonder though - are we now looking with higher expectations than we used to? Should we try to recall our previous ambitions and measure them against current reality? Are the things that are being lost to us important, or do our gains outweigh them? I have no answers. So nil desperandum illegitum carborundum, and most of the birds are hatched and singing.

Sue said...

As my mother in law used to say, "don't buy green bananas".

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi both. A friend said that this was a fairly dark piece. I'm not sure. My ideas were evolving to a degree as I wrote.

I think as we get older, and this does link to Toffler, it becomes harder to adjust to the shifting self-evidently right present. This is especially true where you get tip points that lead to very significant paradigm shifts. Another aspect of getting older is that the time you have to deliver things shortens.

I do think that it is harder to achieve things today. This view is based partly on my own experience, more on the historical writing that I am doing. I think that part of the problem is that decision processes have become increasingly constipated. It's hard to explain this to people who have not been involved in the past. A more important problem is that the canvas has broadened.

I follow current debate fairly carefully. The range of issues considered to be important, that therefore should be addressed, has exploded. The reality, at least as I see it, is that the quantum that you can actually achieve is always limited. When you try to do everything and are working with increasing difficult decision/action processes, real results drop.

I really struggle with what I perceive to be the growing intolerance in public and private discourse and interaction, the desire to tear things down. I am sure that this is partly connected to social media and greater visibility, I know that its always been there, but I find it difficult to manage.

Oh well. I am sure that I will return to these issues when i have something useful to say!

Tikno said...

Keep the spirit, Jim. I'm sure you can go through it.
At one point, maybe others have also experienced it. Like a heart detection monitor, as long as we are alive, there must be a chart that rises after it goes down.

Jim Belshaw said...

:) Thank you, Tikno. Nice to hear from you. How are things going?

Tikno said...

All is well. It's just that I have trouble managing time for blogging because of my work. But I still like to reading blog posts.

Dennis said...

Interesting post I enjoyed read this.