Thursday, February 23, 2012

Week 6: Irene Carvajal reading response

Fixing a social problem such as poverty with acts of generosity alone is like putting a band aid on a cancerous wound. The root of the problem is a society that does not foster individuality. In a socialist society individualism will flourish due to the fact that basic needs are in place and need not take up surplus energy that can then be utilized in pursuit of beauty. 
 Starvation is the root of crime, if people’s basic needs were met crime would be unnecessary. When we see hunger and try to alleviate it with  generosity it actually promotes and prolongs hunger. A generous act between unequal parties exalts the inequalities, it demoralizes and degrades. But also and more dangerously masks and blurs the symptoms and creates apathy. Apathy that just prolongs the status quo.
A socialist society is formed by voluntary associations not compulsory or authoritarian rules. But then who does all the unwanted laborious work? Wilde proposes machines take on the role of laborers and/or slaves. Freeing up humanity to make beautiful things. But the machine must “belong” to all. For if it belongs to one person alone it displaces workers, but if it belongs to all it promotes individuality in all.
Oscar Wilde acknowledges the privileged position in which he and his peers live, those who need not labor for a living and therefore can occupy their time and energy in pursuit of their ideas, passions and art. Wilde proposes this should be available to all. Working to generate money and acquire goods should not be the goal of a mans life, for a man should not be measured for what he has but for what he is. Man should live not just merely exist.
You have a wonderful personality. Develop it. Be yourself. Don’t imagine that your perfection lies in accumulating or possessing external things. Your affection is inside of you. If only you could realise that, you would not want to be rich. Ordinary riches can be stolen from a man. Real riches cannot. In the treasury-house of your soul, there are infinitely precious things, that may not be taken from you. And so, try to so shape your life that external things will not harm you. And try also to get rid of personal property. It involves sordid preoccupation, endless industry, continual wrong. Personal property hinders Individualism at every step.”
The laborer, the poor working man has little more value than a work horse. His virtue is in disobedience and rebellion. He must question and act upon this inequality. Conformity leaves no room for freedom. It would be like going through life asleep, merely existing. Agitators are individuals who are essential for human progress. Agitators are necessary to start a revolution. Revolution fosters progress for the enlightment of humankind. Wilde is interested in the change and evolution of mankind and of the individual. Attacks towards an individual create a personal revolution that ultimately intensifies the individuality. There is no greater expression of individuality than art. 
Art is the most intense mode of individualism. For art is only worthy if used for ones own pleasure. To make art that is agreeable to the public the artist must forget his culture, annihilate his style, and surrender everything that is valuable in him. In doing so the art becomes a commodity. Individualism (Art) is a disturbing and disintegrating force. Art is an agitator, art is a revolution. Trying to sell or please the public degrades both the artist and the art.
Oscar Wilde writes the Soul of Man in 1891, 4 years before the Libel Trials are to begin.  In the soul of man he speaks of public opinion and its destructive effect. Public opinion focuses on the private life of the individual, in trying to control him. Breaking his individuality. He goes on to say that public opinion does not alter a man. His personality is untroubled, his soul is free.   He should not listen to it. “Even in prison a man can be quite free.” Wilde is set free in 1897, socially and economically he is broken. He makes some spiritual and artistic attempts at renewal but by 1900 dies destitute and alone. Did society destroy him or did he have a hand in his own destruction? 
The Importance of Being Earnest

 is it somewhat autobiographical (double christening and leading a double life)
All these characters have multiple personality disorder! 
Or they are just children playing at being grown-ups. They sound very childish.
We have user names for our avatars in the virtual world. Do we use this as an alter ego?
Phrases And Philosophies For The Use Of The Young 

Read like bumperstickers
reminds me of the “Land of Happy” by Shel Silverstein:

“Have you been to The Land of Happy,
Where everyone's happy all day,
Where they joke and they sing
Of the happiest things,
And everything's jolly and gay?
There's no one unhappy in Happy, There's laughter and smiles galore.
I have been to The Land of Happy -
What a bore!”

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