Quote Pope John Paul II here.
We are being consumed by choice.
I am wondering if there is not some set of rules that could be adopted – rational though arbitrarily strict – which might free one from the dilemmas of consumer capitalism. Is a self-enforced asceticism the only sufficient spiritual response to the proliferation of contradictory desires? Each of us is incessantly propositioned, day and night. Reader, you probably share with me an overwhelming urge to say “yes” to everything coupled with a persistent impulse to say “no” to something. When to say Yes, and when to say No?
Is this is the basic distinction between conservative and liberal?
My modus operandi, for most of my life, has been “no.” I have a close friend who has functioned more along the lines of ‘yes.’ I can’t say which is better. Better safe then sorry, or he that hesitates is lost? Look before you leap or carpe diem? Choose wisely, Indiana, or go where you want to go do what you want to do with whomever you want to do it?
I suppose this paradox contributes to the “anxiety of our age.” It may explain the success of the Republican party, a basically liberal party — unrepentantly devoted to limitless expansion and consumption, to an infinite chorus of reckless “yes’s” — which has nonetheless identitied a narrow set “no’s” to champion: no gay marriage, no abortion, no illegal immigration. These seem to be strategic refusals aimed to please a specific stratum of constituents, and yet one has to ask if a more inherent phenomenon is at work. Always saying “yes” charts a path to a set of unavoidable ‘no’s.” If the rich must get richer, well, the poor will just have to sort out the consequences. If the world must be made safe for American commerce, well, we can hope that not too many innocent people die in the process.
What I crave is some firm guidelines to bring shape to my choices — so I don’t continue saying “Yes” to everything that comes along until that mortifying day when I’m forced to say “No.” Perhaps us creatures need small doses of repression and sublimation so our imaginations can soar. Is this the theme of the movie Brazil? Who could tell? Maybe I should read more Kierkegaard.
Ah, the illusion of choice. The illusion of freedom. The freedom of illusion. The choice of illusions.
See Baudrillard. See Baudrillard write a book about determinism which expresses his own unique, ineffable consciousness. Witness Baudrillard’s confusion as he says yes to the inevitability of no. See him dither over whether or not to say no to yes.