COMMON RUIN

“Ars longa, vita brevis”

Archive for the tag “nature”

Interview on The Value of Everything

The Value of Everything 101

Where are we headed?

Charles Owen and I have recently come into contact with one another and agreed to record a series of dialogues and debates for his thought-provoking podcast The Value of Everything. Charles’s theoretical background is in classical and Austrian economics, and he espouses a libertarian political philosophy which is rather unique in orientation. I encourage everyone to visit his website, subscribe to the show’s YouTube channel, and listen to the catalog of episodes.

In our first exchange, Charles and I conjecture on the future of world affairs. Among other things, we discuss the global economic crisis, the ascent of political populism, and the prospects for social change.

Click here to download the interview. (Please excuse my gaffes and pauses, it’s my  first time being recorded for a podcast.)

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Another Summer Passes

Inebriated one fine summer day.

Utterly intoxicated one fine summer afternoon.

Summer has officially come to a close, although you would hardly realize it if you were to venture outside in Florida. The humidity remains stifling, insects are ubiquitous, and the heat is oppressive. Autumn is not recognizable in this state until mid to late November at the earliest, and even then it is only in terms of a slightly lower temperature. Many Floridians, myself included, think of the beautiful fall foliage and temperate conditions the rest of the country experiences this time of year with great envy. So, if you are fortunate enough to reside in a state with marked seasonal changes, do not take it for granted. Roll in the leaves with a loved one, drink hot apple cider, visit a pumpkin patch, all that fun stuff.

The high points of my summer included going to my nephew’s preschool graduation, visiting my sister—after not seeing her in quite a while, having the pleasure of introducing St. Augustine to my lovely girlfriend, and spending time with my family. I was not able to do much, but the little I did was very fulfilling.

As insensitive as it may sound, among the low points this summer was not experiencing another hurricane. I have been yearning for one to strike this state for the last several years, only to be consistently disappointed. It is not the destruction that I take pleasure in, but rather the mass hysteria and disarray I find enjoyable; the extreme weather is also wonderfully exciting. (And before someone accuses me of exemplifying white male privilege, or what have you, let me assure my audience that I have endured hurricanes in relatively poor dwellings throughout my life; it is not as though my desire is a consequence of living in sturdy, expensive infrastructure.) Watching the ominous dark clouds spin in from the coast while feeling the wind gusts progressively intensify is uniquely exhilarating.

Another disappointment was the Scottish referendum to exit the Unite Kingdom being defeated due to the fear mongering tactics of Westminster. John Maclean was surely rolling in his grave at the despicable outcome of September 18th.

Economic conditions failed to unfold as I predicted they would, but I feel my hypothesis, while falsified in terms of the timeline I provided, remains sound nonetheless. The underlying cause of the crisis, i.e., a declining rate of profit, has not been addressed, nor do I think it would be politically viable to destroy capital on the scale necessary to return to a period of economic growth. Keynesian policies will continue to kick the proverbial can down the road, but a precipitous decline is inevitable.

From Adventure to Misadventure on Sunday Afternoon

The first car accident I was involved in occurred when I was a young boy and a teenager ran a stop sign in a quiet suburban neighborhood, thereafter slamming into the side of my father’s car. The second was on my way home from work one night on one of the state’s busiest highways—a drunk driver was responsible for a collision involving several vehicles and the slick pavement caused me to hydroplane into one of them. The third transpired this past weekend, and this is the story of how it came to pass.

Friday and Saturday consisted of my usual weekend routine, but by Sunday I had become weary of urban pastimes and yearned for the tranquility and solitude of nature. (My occasional agoraphobia was not as much the impetus behind this sudden urge as was the fact I could not bear the notion of spending another day in a city teeming with self-absorbed, prodigal dullards prattling on about their banal college lives.) Since I was bereft of suitable locations to facilitate my desire to temporarily retreat into the wilderness, I had no choice but to turn to the internet for assistance. I subsequently found several parks which met the criteria I had in mind and selected the most appealing among them.

Ominous weather and the park’s general obscurity ensured that I was the only individual who happened to be on the nature trail, which was magnificent. The experience turned out to be just as therapeutic as I hoped it would. As is doubtless the case for many others, I sometimes require brief periods of isolation in order for my creative faculties to perform optimally—and I often return from excursions like Sunday afternoon’s abound with ideas for various projects.

For all its faults, Florida features some of the most captivating terrain in the Union.

For all its faults, Florida possesses some of the most captivating terrain in the Union. (My lousy cellphone picture doesn’t do the scene justice, unfortunately.)

After my brisk hike through the park had concluded, the storms began to intensify and I decided it was time to return to the concrete jungle. On the way to my apartment, the hazardous weather conditions prompted me to make an effort to drive especially cautiously, so as to avert the possibility of getting into an accident. But one person exercising caution is obviously not sufficient, and as I was approaching my destination a negligent elderly gentleman failed to yield while merging into my lane and rammed into the rear, passenger side of my car. Instead of being annoyed with the man’s utter carelessness, the response the ordeal evoked in me was trauma over the vicissitudes of life.

Some of the damage my vehicle sustained.

Some of the damage my vehicle sustained.

Although I am fortunate the accident was not worse than it could have been (my injuries, while painful, are survivable), it educed my keen sense of the fragility of life and its attendant death anxiety. Over-analyzing the arbitrariness of the universe is a significant part of my neurosis, and this event undoubtedly exacerbated that psychological tendency I exhibit to a considerable degree. For instance, I cannot help but think that had I chosen to visit a different park, the accident would not have occurred; but then maybe I would have been bitten by a venomous snake, or perhaps some other unforeseeable fatal event could have befallen me. One could easily get even more specific and claim that, were I to have taken an additional 30 seconds brushing my teeth on Sunday morning, the outcome of my entire day (or possibly life) could well have been drastically different. And so on, and so forth. This manner of thinking is the principal source of my anxiety disorder—a condition I have been afflicted with for nearly three years—and, try as I may, I cannot always suppress it.

Everyday we enter into a world of profound uncertainty and yet we deceive ourselves into believing it is within our control. I suppose it is an understandable approach to take, for if human beings seriously contemplated every conceivable repercussion of their actions nothing would get accomplished. Those of us who are not fortunate enough to reside in a state of ignorant bliss or are incapable of successfully executing the aforementioned self-deception others regularly engage in, however, have no alternative but to resign ourselves to life’s caprice and simply hope we make it through unscathed. Our inability to come to terms with this dreadful aspect of the human condition condemns us to a life characterized by Weltschmerz.

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