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TOPIC: On Desire - by William Irvine

On Desire - by William Irvine 04 Aug 2013 07:27 #13936

My husband was reading to me from this book yesterday. It had an interesting exercise in the part he was reading.

Imagine that everyone on earth disappeared, yet all the functions of society remained functioning - the stores were opened and stocked, the gas stations had gas, etc. So you could take and have absolutely anything you wanted. You could move into the nicest house in your favorite place, eat whatever you liked, take clothes from the store you always loved but couldn't afford, go anywhere you pleased. Ignoring any issues about feeling lonely, etc for the sake of this exercises, what would you choose? How would you dress? Where would you live? How would you eat? What books would you read? What shows would you watch? How would you spend your time?

His point being that a huge percentage of the choices we make in these things are about trying to present an identity to other people. We put a certain bumper sticker on our certain brand of car so others - even complete strangers - will know we are this or that kind of person. If there was literally no one to show these things to, what would we do?
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On Desire - by William Irvine 04 Aug 2013 09:34 #13937

My mind would no doubt carry on AS IF there would be someone to see what I was wearing, eating, doing. I have no idea how long that little play would last, but I suspect eventually I'd settle into some kind of familiar routineā€¦ until I started freaking out about the world being truly void of "other."
Last Edit: 04 Aug 2013 09:35 by Chris Marti.
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On Desire - by William Irvine 04 Aug 2013 22:37 #13951

I love this, but to play devil's advocate, isn't it a deep, maybe essential part of our selves-as-humans or of our humanity that we live in interconnected ways, as parts of inextricable nodes and networks, which includes the things we do that are chiefly about our image of how others will see us?
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On Desire - by William Irvine 04 Aug 2013 23:31 #13953

I agree with Chris. I read On Desire a few years back. I was trying to understand my desire for divorce. Should I act on my desire and disappoint almost everyone in my life? Or should I please the collective and deny what I knew I wanted, and split off into a world of shadow. Two months post divorce, I'm curled up in my favorite chair reading
Necessary Losses: The Loves, Dependecies, and Impossible Expectations that All of Us Have to Give Up In Order to Grow, by Judith Viorst. Viorst would argue that seperation guilt would flatten most people faced with the situaion Ona described.

Thanks to our early programming, it has been propsed that asserting our right to a separate existence can uncousciously feel as if we're killing our parents. Some would drive the dream car, in the expensive clothes, or what have you, but unconscious gilt would cause them to have an accident and spill caviar all over the new clothes, for it is wrong to enjoy what society wouldn't otherwise permit you to have.
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