The author has been described by News Ltd as an "iconoclast", "Svengali", a pollie's "economist muse", and "pungently accurate". Fairfax says he is a "Renaissance man" and "one of Australia’s most respected analysts." Stephen Koukoulas concludes that he is "85% right", and "would make a great Opposition leader." Terry McCrann claims the author thinks "‘nuance’ is a trendy village in the south of France", but can be "scintillating" when he thinks "clearly". The ACTU reckons he’s "an enigma wrapped in a Bloomberg terminal, wrapped in some apparently well-honed abs."

Monday, January 2, 2012

What is life in a New Year?

It's the question we often ask ourselves. Why am I here? What am I meant to be doing with my life if I only have, say, 15 years to live? Am I really supposed to be slogging away trying to make ends meet for the next 30, 40, or 50 years? What is all this toil for? Why does tragedy always seem to befall me? And then just when you might think that your current existence is a little miserable, maybe you realise that is also a relativity. You are vastly better off than probably 98% of the world's inhabitants if you are reading this blog. And you likely live a much longer and more pleasant life than your predecessors.

If I ever get jealous, it is in relation to those who will succeed me. Human progress and the relentless advance of innovation imply that their lives will be even more satisfying and convenient again. Of course, this presumes a stable social order. Romans would correctly point out that the Dark Ages that followed them were highly regressive.

For many the aging process is depressing since it represents the physical alarm bell that you have a terminal date with your own mortality. Perhaps the most frustrating thing of all is the knowledge that nobody actually has the answer to the question of why we are here. Or at least nobody can know with certainty that they know. So we are dealing with highly imperfect information.

The emergence of some kind of monotheism or paganism in all early societies suggests that the uniquely human search for true meaning is most easily dealt with by magic thinking: fabricating a simple set of solutions that provide a neat explanation for everything, and, typically, a code of conduct, or absolute laws.

If, at the end of the day, there are no reliable answers regarding what happens after we exhale our last breath, you are left with guiding principles as to how you might want to live your life:

--find happiness defined only where that satisfaction is not directly or avoidably to the detriment of others;

--contribute to the advancement of our collective welfare in some way, shape or form;

--live a full life and capitalize as best you can on both your innate potential and the opportunities that life affords you;

--be vigilant in trying to temper those personal dispositions that do not accord with any of the preceding principles; and, finally,

--perhaps there is something to be said for becalm--imbuing oneself with a sense of peace in acknowledgement of our infinitesimal role in the passage of time, and in recognition of the extraordinary natural and mostly inexplicable beauty that surrounds us--both in our world, and beyond...