“A decadent civilization compromises with its disease, cherishes the virus infecting it, loses its self-respect,” wrote E.M. Cioran. But having died in 1995, he was spared many awful (decadent) things: Harriet Miers, computer voting, Mark Dreier on 60 Minutes, chatroulette. He didn’t have to watch the worldwide web turn into a mass addiction to Ubiquitous Distraction disguised as socializing, or information mining.
But I am not a Luddite. Nor has everyone succumbed. Alain de Botton has humanized the mechanical beast that is Twitter. He is an essayist, writer and aphorist in the great tradition of Cioran, Roland Barthes, and William Blake–whose The Marriage of Heaven and Hell offers this prophetic balm (“One thought fills immensity.”) and this do-gooder’s credo (“Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.”). There are many great books of aphorisms. But de Botton’s appear in multiple entries on a daily basis on twitter.
A few of his latest:
“Modern romanticism: we go in search of one person who will spare us any need for other people.”
“We’d probably work a lot less hard if we could be sure of being liked without any worldly achievements to our names.”
“It’s as hard to get on with colleagues as with lovers, yet there’s no room to squabble and resolve tensions through sex.”
“Power is sex for the old.”
“We want our politicians to be at once entirely ordinary and completely exceptional.”
Bio: Joel is a founding editor of Guernica. Read his interview with Paul Berman here. Read his last recommendation of the PS122 “here”:https://www.guernicamag.com/blog/1736/rec_room_joel_whitney_ps122/.