Marks and Remarks
Food for the Mind and Eye

No. 0090, August 18, 2015



Copyright 2015 by S. W. Paul Wyszkowski

     Never mind the image, Prickles, it's a doodle I did just for fun, à propos de rien. "I was wondering," she says, "so what about desire?" Well, it's the origin of value - no desire, no value. And values are what we seem to live by, idealists and pragmatists alike. The outliers who can't find value in life because they either lack desire or else desire too much, often commit suicide or wind up in mental hospitals. Desire is what makes us act to shape the desired future. The question is, what should we desire, what should our values be, and why. "And the answer is?" prompts Prickles. Joy is the answer.

     Why do we desire at all? "Tell me," says Prickles. Well, one could reasonably speculate that our desires are programmed by the evolutionary process so that what we tend to desire is that which helps us survive and adapt to the present circumstances. But that doesn't really answer the question, just kicks the can further down the road. Why should we (or our genes) survive? What is the value of life? "Enjoyment of it?" Prickles ventures. Bingo!

     We are all cursed with too much imagination and not enough attention to what is actually the case. Some more than others. We tend to fixate on an idea of what constitutes enjoyment of life, foisted on us by our culture, our beliefs (usually mistaken), and by accidents of life including encounters with scoundrels and charlatans as well as, if we are lucky, wise men and women. So not all our desires lead to actual enjoyment of life. On the other hand, moments of joy often come to us unbidden when we do nothing more than pay attention to what is actually the case. In any case, clearly the intent behind our desires is not mere survival - we are programmed for joy. "By whom?" asks Prickles. Excellent question.

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