What’s With the Quotes?
by Emanuel A Frenkel
What’s with the quotes?
Many authors like to place famous, or less-than-famous, quotes or sayings the front-end of their books. They do this to give the reader a kind-of advance feeling of what may be main themes in the book. I do not know if this really works or not but if any of you have read Contentonomics or have looked at the free “inside the book” feature on amazon.com, you’ll see that I’ve placed four quotes at the front-end. Question is: what do these words have to do with the philosophy of Contentonomics and what’s the point?
Well, let’s see…
“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” – Henry David Thoreau, from “Economy” in Walden
Here we have one of the most famous quotes in all of American writing. Anyone who has studied Thoreau figures that he must have thought a simple, pure, always relevant life was worth living. And of course he is not wrong in this. However, much of the academic analysis of this quote (and there is a lot) goes after the notion that people, in general, live empty, shadow lives as they go about struggling for an economic existence as workers and especially as consumers. Thoreau made a big deal about not consuming too much, about how the chase for frivolity and abundance left a giant hole in the human spirit. This hole was felt as a quiet desperation that nobody in the community wanted to talk about, afraid as being looked upon as a boring “downer”.
However, reflection on this quote could also lead to the notion that it was Thoreau who may have been suffering in quiet desperation, feeling a separateness form his peers and the community in Concord Mass. That is, Thoreau’s searching cry for happiness by living “in nature” with extreme simplicity was in fact his own quiet desperation as he watched the “normal” people of his time, work, spend, get, and consume in apparent disregard of their own “terrible” situation.
Is it not possible that the majority in town were indeed relatively satisfied while the poor Thoreau (a fabulous writer) took his loneliness to the forest and made the best of it? It’s worth thinking about.
There may be some media interviews with Thoreau in which he explains his positions, but I am not aware of them. The point is that given the possibility that Thoreau might be correct; the mindset of Contentonomics is a constructive point of departure from which to maximize the avoidance of quiet desperation, as least as far as the material world is concerned. Hence I claim, “Contentonomics – Positive Mindfulness in a Material World”
“An important source of happiness comes from a feeling of belonging to this world.” – From Contentonomics
This is my favorite line from the book Contentonomics. It says it all in one sentence. As we are social creatures, a feeling of being one of the gang, the team, the family, or the community is a great source of well-being. To feel the respect, reward, and recognition that is so universally desired, one must honestly contribute service to the community with understanding AND tolerance. What’s the point?
Yes, is certain evil and ill-will in the world. There is poverty amidst plenty, pollution and waste, the urgent need for renewable resources to replace older ways of making things. There is greed, and jealously, deceit, envy and false hopes, and there is the desire for war and retribution in the midst of searches for peace and harmony. And yet, none of these dark things makes it any less important that we, as members of an economy, should not strive for a personal and permanent contentment even if our life goal is to lessen one or many of the world’s evils.
Again, the mindset of Contentonomics is a springboard to the serenity and well-being to which the quote refers.
“We are all united by the desire for, and the achievement of, a sense of well-being and contentment that comes from the personally-held notion that others in the community recognize, respect, and reward us for who we are, what we are, and what we do” – from Contentonomics
This is what makes Contentonomics relevant. If there does exist the universal desire for acceptance by others, then it makes sense to develop a philosophy of living that tries to respond to this need in the context of the reality of what is: not what ought to be, should be, or might be. The reality is that we all live in an economy. We cannot escape being producers and consumers in this economy. We gain this acceptance and accept others by playing these two roles. What’s the point? Contentonomics maximizes the chance of receiving reward, respect, and recognition in a mindful state of peace.
“To observe the world with an open mind and easy spirit is delightful. The resulting mindset senses possibility and potential, growth and opportunity, personal links to the community and a solidarity with others.” Emanuel A Frenkel
This one is pretty straightforward. This is the result of living Contentonomics!