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Wednesday, 10 August 2016

To make nothing

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All the catering to vice and waste was on an utterly childish scale, and he suddenly realized the meaning of the word “dissipate” — to dissipate into thin air; to make nothing out of something.
F. Scott Fitzgerald - Babylon Revisited (1931)

Yet dissipation is what we do, what we must do to live in the modern world. We must make nothing out of something because that something has to be supplied again if money is to circulate. In this important sense our whole lives; our entire world is one of dissipation.

In spite the sleazy aura of drugs and corruption the Olympics circus must go on, dissipating human excellence, enthusiasm and patriotism into the pockets of those who pull the strings. Rio 2016 will be followed by Tokyo 2020 because money must flow and the dissipation must continue.

Even mundane activities such as recycling are often forms of dissipation. A waste of time achieving almost nothing beyond middle class virtue-signalling. Perhaps that is an important point, because in its wider sense, modern dissipation is essentially the dissipation of time. Money too, but money also dissipates time in an endless cycle of waste - or an endless cycle of living - or an endless cycle of lifestyles. It's a matter of perspective.

It seems that if we are to live modern lives then we must at the same time dissipate our lives in order to carry the torch of modernity, in order to make nothing out of something.

5 comments:

Sam Vega said...

True enough, but we also accumulate. Dissipation is largely consumption, but we are also producers. Think about all the vague and random ideas that you have had to sift and process in order to produce this fine little post.

Roger said...

In the long run we are all dead. What's the point anyway, get it all over with quickly.

Given that infanticide is frowned upon I suppose we should not be too picky over saying - this is worthwhile, that is not. The Limpiks give pleasure to some, it enriches politicians and builders, it teaches rough building technique, it keeps Ms Balding in hair colour. Which job is more worthwhile - Trump's bum-wiper or Poet Lauriate - hard to say really.

Cheer up, it will soon be over.

James Higham said...

A waste of time achieving almost nothing beyond middle class virtue-signalling.

Yes.

Demetrius said...

I like virtue signalling. It makes me smug and self satisfied. Keep Right On to the end of the road as Harry Lauder used to tell us. But be was deeply politically incorrect.

A K Haart said...

Sam - thanks and yes, we are producers but the dissipation seems to provide a kind of safety valve. Produce too much and more and more effort is dissipated in bells and whistles.

Roger - then we have Tokyo to look forward to in 2020. Should be well organised I suppose.

James - and so obviously not virtuous.

Demetrius - I can't help it because I am virtuous, although I'm not so sure about my signal strength.