There is a wonderful article by Alison Gopnik in the October issue of The Atlantic about depression, the Buddha and the Scottish philosopher, David Hume, whose work, “The Treatise of Human Nature” (1739) is a seminal work in the Western canon. Essentially, Hume dismissed all previous Western philosophical enquiry that placed man at the center of all things and suggested that there is no “I” at all since it is virtually impossible to abnegate the self without having either sensation or perception. This was radical in many ways and paved the way to a completely different understanding of the human condition.

The thing I have noticed about the current political season is how hard each candidate tries to stand out from the rest by intoning their accomplishments (real, semi-real or completely false). The pronoun, “I”, of course, leads the way in these statements as you might expect. However, one candidate hardly ever uses the pronoun and I am wondering if that is significant, whether the system demands self-aggrandizement or not? Does a candidate who loudly proclaims himself truly understand that the office is not about him or her, but about serving? The self, in Presidential mode, should not really exist.

Gopnik’s question concerning Hume’s book was how he made this philosophical breakthrough. The idea of it is Buddhist, but how could he have known anything about Buddhism? This is the meat of the article and it is Gopnik’s restorative from depression as she searches libraries, finds translators and, researches her way back from the brink of a mid-life crisis. Gopnik’s single minded pursuit of this discovery reads like a detective novel and is just as exciting. The link to the article is below.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/10/how-david-hume-helped-me-solve-my-midlife-crisis/403195/


The overwhelming success of certain web applications has encouraged more than a few tech minded people to search for the latest life enhancing idea. Venture capitalists see this area as one of huge growth and are throwing big money at some of these ideas. Of course, a great many of them, such as Airbnb and Uber, have quickly spawned imitators with, I presume, market share fracturing with each successive imitator. The value of name recognition in this context is huge, but it will be quality of service which really determines the success of any venture. Hence, the need for the venture capitalists whose money can create the infrastructure that will enable development and provide that service.

Life for a great many Londoners in the 18th century had nothing to do with ease of any sort. Perhaps the greatest advancement, as far as many people were concerned, was the home still, a contraption that could prove extremely dangerous because of the need for open flame. Not only was it dangerous to produce, but so many people were drinking that there was a “gin epidemic” and a hefty tax was passed in 1736 to deter consumption. Of course there were riots and the duty was reduced and eventually abolished. It should be understood that it was far safer to drink spirits in London than it was to drink water, but notwithstanding this fact, the liquor taxes were resumed, in perpetuity, in 1751.

No matter what the vehicle one uses to make life more agreeable, almost all of them will have negative aspects. Apps on a smartphone don’t do anything per se until you use them and find them workable. I have had bad Uber rides, for example, and as far as I am concerned, it is a service that is flawed and yet, in a rainstorm in any obscure spot in New York City, it is also a godsend. (A number of Uber competitors have sprung up in NYC, so market competition is in full swing which should make them all more service oriented.) Is this quibbling on my part? A little bit, but enough quibbles can doom a product—human responses can trend precipitously in any direction. Look at Donald Trump’s ascension in the polls. Almost makes me wish for a hangover.


Initially, when I first started reading about Donald Trump’s run for the Presidency, I thought that he might be a Shakespearean character, perhaps a Falstaff, a buffoon like character who speaks some truth but mostly balderdash. However, I recognize him now as a man who operates in the gray areas. He is non-specific for a purpose, because it allows him to make light of those things he knows little about and it also allows him to be heavy when he chooses. It is an amoral position because it allows him to sit on both sides of the fence. He has no position other than what is good for him.

I have immense respect for decorators and designers who are capable of translating their clients’ wishes into a home or apartment that they can enjoy. It is an arduous task as it requires a sense of psychology, a solid work ethic and a great deal of knowledge. The penultimate day of stress has to be the day of installation where, once the walls are painted and floor is ready, the interior is to be laid out. This is the day where a decorator learns a number of lessons, the foremost being whether they are going to enjoy this line of work, or not.

Inevitably, the gray areas, those not fully discussed come back to haunt the decorator just as they will haunt the American electorate if Donald Trump somehow succeeds in enrapturing the Republican faithful. My hope is that his stance will force one of his sixteen rivals to repudiate the party line which is largely so negative. The only person remotely doing so at this point is John Kasich. Why the Republicans don’t see this is beyond my comprehension. I guess it might be time to deal with the facts of Bernie Sanders’ message. No gray area there.