About That Letter From Those Theologians
The Millennium: Begin

Two More Notes on Dawn Eden Goldstein's Sunday Will Never Be the Same

I knew I should have let that notice that I posted last week sit for a day or two before posting it. I generally do that with anything that's more than a paragraph or two, in case I think of something else I want to say or change the way I said it. So, addenda:

(1) I found a note I'd made while reading the book and forgotten about. Here, I'll just give it to you verbatim: 

People might say she's extreme about life worth living or not. But she's only facing the truth that is mostly ignored.

I didn't mention one of the arresting things about Dawn's story, which is that she was suicidally depressed for much of her youth and young adulthood. It seemed to her that her life held neither happiness nor meaning. And at times when she felt that there was not even the hope of happiness she felt that to continue living would only prolong the unhappiness. 

What I mean when I say she was facing the truth is that the sense of what life is for that is generally operative in our secular culture is that one is meant to be happy, and more or less entitled to be. (We don't look very closely at "meant to be.") This is a sort of starting point. However, if happiness is not happening or at least plausibly expected, life can still have a meaning. You can find meaning in doing things that you believe worthy--and most people would probably say that this involves somehow making life better for other people, those close to you or some larger set, maybe the whole of humanity. That's good, and I don't disparage it. But it's a limited, provisional meaning, not an absolute one. If, as the famous remark goes, in the long run we're all dead, then this constitutes meaning only for the relatively short run. I'm very sympathetic to people like Dawn for whom this is not enough. Because I'm one of them. 

(2) I lodged the mild complaint that I'd like to have heard more about the music she loves, and the effect(s) it had on her. That's still true, but I re-read the passage where for the first time she hears "It's You," from The Millennium's album Begin, and then the rest of the album, and it certainly does what I asked. "It's You" is the 45 pictured on the book's cover. I will be posting a review of that album sometime this week so will save further comment on it for that.

Also, her references to Robyn Hitchcock's work make me want to hear more of it. There's a significant moment when she hears him perform "The Ghost In You," a song by the Psychedelic Furs. As it happens, that song is one of the three Robyn Hitchcock tracks in my mp3 collection. 

I might still like the Furs' original better. 

Comments

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This is a good point about the "pursuit of happiness" either now or in the short-expected present. Lately I've been thinking along these same lines and I seem to end up as: look, life DOES have a purpose, this IS all going somewhere, and if it doesn't feel rewarding at the moment or even what appears to be coming up, you're going to have to just follow the same map as the people before you*. It helps a lot if this map is the result of divine revelation. And absent a cultural agreement as to what the destination is and who, if anyone, has the map, no wonder so many are depressed.

*"you" generic, not "you, author of this fine website"

:-)

If there's one thing you can say with scientific certainty about purpose and maps for living, it's that people really *need* them.

Also "you" generic. :-)

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