Exploring the paradox of control, which is the subject of German sociologist Hartmut Rosa’s recent book, The Uncontrollability of the World. It’s a short book, coming in at just over 100 pages, but it develops what is, in my view, an essential insight into one of the key assumptions structuring modern society.
This piece really resonated (haha) with me.
I have been thinking a lot about how high the stakes of our lives seem. As an agnostic person, I wonder what it is like to have more of a sense of an afterlife, and whether this might reduce the feeling from the secular perspective that since You Only Live Once (YOLO) the stakes are extremely high. That is, if there is heaven or something, the stakes of life might be a lot lower.
To the point of your and Rosa's writing, then, I wonder how much this secular perspective raises the stakes of living, and thus, creates a desire for control. Since we only live once, we must optimize the experience. Nothing can be left to chance. Nothing can be left simply to what is given.
The vision of life as given allows our relationships to all of it to be regenerative. It is the poet’s vision.
“our life will be better if we manage to bring more world within our reach: this is the mantra of modern life, unspoken but relentlessly reiterated and reified in our actions and behavior.”
This is a wonderful example of what you stated earlier about our best efforts or intentions not only failing but causing more harm because we are more "connected" to other people, places and ideas..past and present.. Yet most people feel more frustrated than prior generations. I in no way believe that it is the technology's doing but rather, like your example of data being used to deny healthcare insurance, the for profit algorithms manipulate what we actually have access to. That's scary because we have a whole society that fully believes themselves informed but they only see news sites and websites based on their opinionated web searches or purchases. An ignorant person who thinks they know, is much more harmful than an ignorant person who knows their ignorance. Very well written and read!
As after the short piece on the Hermeneutical Imperative, and Weil’s need for rootedness, I finished this one radically skeptical of all institutions. But that position is untenable and contradictory. (Let’s set aside for the moment accepting a logic of non-contradiction, though it seems we are not free to make such exclusions, ince all these set phrases are themselves institutions.)
In other words, knowing that we must surrender authentically, in order to resonate, but resist (and therefore control!) the forces that insist on control, how might we participate together, expose our children to methods so that they don’t reinvent the wheel (and health, and law, and birth control) without embracing institutions that operate by abstract principles and policies alien—also by definition—to the authentically surrendering self?
Is it possible to resonate with an institution? To live the efficiency of Amazon’s delivery the way we love (grotesque, proletarian comparison intended) the beauty of the Pietà, though we see its misery?