There once was a time when a person could be unhappy. If they took the wrong turn in the road, or, made some bad choices it would usually lead to a life that did not produce happiness in sufficient quantities for them to feel good about themselves and the life they were living. They ended up “unhappy” as a result, at least in part, of choices that they themselves had made.
Today, thanks to a partnership between pharmaceutical manufacturers, health care practitioners, and consumers, unhappiness has gone the way of smallpox. It no longer exists in nature. Unhappiness was conquered by science when it was finally recognized for what it really was… a disease. No longer must sufferers of what used to be called unhappiness carry the blame for any of their own suffering. As it turns out what human beings used to call unhappiness was really a condition that can only be cured by doctors. We call it “depression” today, and it is caused by improper chemicals in your brain that, in more cases than not, are a result of genetic factors far beyond your control.
I submit to my gentle readers that, in todays world, this is a VERY GOOD thing to know. Honestly, it sucked being responsible for our own happiness. To be unhappy meant we were failures at life. It meant that we ourselves recognized that we were not capable of playing our part effectively, and competently, in our consumer culture. Quite frankly it was nothing less than wonderful to learn that we were off the hook . It wasn’t our fault after all.
In a sense this knowledge and the new found scientific ability to alter our consciousness chemically has immunized us to the inherent dangers of consumer culture. The dangerous discontent, generated by advertising, that is the basic driving force and operating principle of consumer capitalism can, thankfully, be rendered harmless with the two edged sword of education and pharmaceuticals. Education tells us that hope springs eternal. All of us are “special”. Even the poorest of the poor can win fame and happiness through the purchase of lottery tickets and even the abysmally ignorant can become sports heros, or, outrageously wealthy media phenomena. Who, with eyes to see and ears to hear and a functioning TV can ever doubt this? Who does not know that happiness rests just over the horizon awaiting our arrival?
Today there is simply no need to be a slave to any faulty mix of brain chemicals our genes may have dealt us. There is no need to feel “bad” about anything in a culture where anything is possible and, thanks to modern science, purchasable.
Discontent… of course must remain alive in its purest sense because it is what keeps the American Dream going. Unless we all WANT things we do not yet have there can be no perpetual progress, no jobs producing things, no creation of wealth, no viable economy. If one is not discontent… we are forced to conclude one is simply not paying attention.
Happy… but, discontent is what we are looking for, and at just the proper mix. We must guard ourselves never to admit to being unhappy, to admit that would be to announce to the world that we were a loser. The stench of unhappiness on a person is today as a bell on a leper once was. UNCLEAN!
Proper mental hygiene demands that we want the things that we do not have. Discontent at not having important things to have, must, if we are normal, drive us to work harder, longer and with more ingenuity. Desiring and acquiring,… to live to desire and acquire again another day are the kind of meat machines we are. If one day we find that we are not humming along nicely, sporting a happy face and acquiring sufficient things, with decent cultural value… we should consult a physician. The chemicals in our head are almost certainly out of whack, scientifically speaking, and the proper adjustments need to be made. Failure to do so means we will become, if we have not already become… depressed.
That’s how it works. Be careful. Work hard. Don’t fuck around. If everything goes to shit in spite of your best efforts, don’t worry about it because it isn’t your fault anyway.
( As the days get darker and shorter Mrs. N. finds herself taking great joy in being unpleasant to the annoying who, at this festive time of year, seem to circulate more abundantly among us… )