Coded gray.

Friday 26 October 2001

Screenshot The Sims

Pic of the day: Some people are happy with others, some are happy alone. Well, isn't it a good thing that some people are happy? (And yes, it happens in real life too. I have seen it and bear witness.)


Ack. I am way too cynical to write about the subjects I had thought of tonight. I'll just have to try to think up something cute to say instead. Hmm ... nothing comes to mind. OK then, let me be blunt.

I read this online comic, "Nowhere Girl", which has been highly recommended by people who know even more about comics than I do. Notice that I don't link to it. I'm not planning to change that. Yes, the art was quite good. The content was ... depressing. If I wanted to read about the life of suicidal, sexually confused teen girls, I find more than enough of that on LiveJournal, thank you very much.


What's with the social realism in art anyway? What's so great with problems? There are problems anywhere. If we don't have solutions, or at least some minor fix, what service are we doing spreading problems around? What's so great about that? Sorry, but I'm not going to visit anyone in purgatory unless I think they will follow me out afterwards.

It's not just this particular story. Actually, I'm not even sure I saw the end of it. (It looked like an end, and I was only too happy to leave.) But it seems to be a trend or something. Just the other day I read a review of some novel which was supposed to be rather great. Some master writer had written this story about a loser who did not get along with his girlfriend and yelled at her and stuff. Yeah, great. There are way too many people living like that already. Why spread the manure all around?

The world is full of unhappy people. Well, actually there's a lot of people who are only moderately unhappy, and then there's quite a few who are really desperately unhappy, and then there are some who are happy. Doesn't it make sense to study those who are happy? To find out what makes them tick? To find out what makes them happy?

Months ago, Al Schroeder wrote a Nova Note about the fact that people today study criminology, while in the Middle Ages they studied hagiology - the knowledge of saints. That's sure a thing to think twice about. Now in all honesty I don't think the hagiology back then was all that advanced, building as it was largely on pious fantasies. Certainly it did not make the Middle Ages a Heaven on Earth.

Do I really want or need to learn what it is like to live a life of deprivation or depravation? No way. If my soul is to rot, it shall be of my own doing and not by feeding it literary toxic wastes, that's for sure.

Likewise, I don't read the journals of my depressed friends because I like to see how it is to be depressed, but because they are my friends. I would much rather they were content and in good spirits.


Indeed, the Greek word "eudaimonia" means loosely "good spirits". (Yes, that's the same root word as modern "demon". Evidently there has been some change in meaning during the last 2500 years.) My fellow players of the strategy game Alpha Centauri probably recognizes the word as one of the possible societal goals in that game. A society where true and lasting happiness is the goal.

It may be because I am a philosopher at heart, and a mystic, or just abnormal. But to me, it seems obvious that we should seek personal growth. Career is nifty, I guess, if it is in the direction you want to grow. But to be unhappy in order to earn excessive amounts of money which you suppose will make you happy? That really doesn't rhyme. Then again I don't believe strongly in the power of money to make people happy. I agree that this is an understandable error, because a lack of money makes us unhappy. When we do not have enough food, or a place to live, or decent clothes, then it is hard to be satisfied. Not impossible, but it is definitely hard and should be avoided. Since a little money will help alleviate suffering, it stands to reason that a lot of money will create outright happiness. But that's wrong.

At some point our basic needs are met, and the higher goals depend a lot less on money and a lot more on other things. There may still be some money involved, in order to travel or buy tools or connect to the Internet. But a greater and greater part of the content comes from other sources: Social interactions and self-expression.

For me, I guess it is more self-expression and less social interaction. I may be lucky that way, that I don't need company all the time. Then again, needing company may be ideal for those who live with a roomie or a spouse or a child or two. (I see that with the Sims. Some of them just can't live happily alone, while others keep to themselves even when married.)

You know, I feel quite better now, just by expressing myself and my inherent happiness instead of wallowing in fictive misery. I have no idea whether other people could become temporarily happy by reading about people like me, but I don't hold it impossible. Of course, they would probably also revert to their normal status when left alone for a while. But then I suppose they could just read more. There are other happy people than me in the world. You just have to look.

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