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Good news.

I ran an outline of what will likely be a book-length project past my friends and they want to publish it as a complement to their offerings on Radical Simplicity. There'll be no money in it for me, because we're talking small press stuff, but from it I'll be able to leverage myself back to teaching college writing again (when I do give up the waterfront), not there is any money in teaching either, but I'm nearly without peer in the classroom for being able to take students other instructors have given up on and turn them into beginning writers who have the self-confidence to speak authoritatively and engagingly with their own voice with full access to resources of their native or adopted language. [an graduate degree in linguistics makes an effective weapon to hold at bay the style and grammar police until my fledglings have the literary muscles to defend themselves].

Such a project means my involvement with TMF ends with this post. My thanks to all, friend and foe, who've responded to my musings. A writer needs feedback, be it kudos or brickbats. But I have no more time for this life if I'm to live another now requiring my attentions. Below is a rough draft of my opening page. Its tone and techniques should be familiar to you, for me being me whatever I write. I'm not quite sure where I'm headed with it, nor if I'll get to where I'd like to go with it, but it's a voyage I need to launch.


ENOUGH: an Inquiry into the Ethics of Consuming and Investing

“If you don't know what 'Enough' is, you will never have enough.”

Yogi Berra might have said that. Or maybe he didn't, and I'm just making it up, but it sounds like something he would say, right? in the both-feet-on-the-ground way that he had of commenting on life.

“You can observe a lot just by watching.”
“If you don't know where you're going, you probably won't get there.”

You gotta love a man like that: centered, grounded, who knows who he is and where he is going.

In the following essay I argue that the concept of “Enough” can be a moral compass for Consuming and Investing, in short, a guide to Modern Life, given that those two activities so define contemporary American society and culture. Depending on the compass of “Enough” I create won't ensure arrival at the destination of “Enough” that you already have in mind, but it might minimize the number of times you get lost on the journey toward the Enough that you would choose for yourself if you really understood your range of choices in terms of their means and their consequences.

This is going to be a long essay, actually many small essays making a mosaic, that you can accept or reject but really can't ignore, because its themes will be drawn from the stuff of your daily life, particularly the choices we all make about money: How To Get It and How To Spend It, with a side trip into America's class structure and its psychological and financial destructiveness.

If you read and liked Thoreau's “Walden; or, Life in the Woods”, then you'll feel at home in the paths I explore and my leisurely pace. But this isn't yet another “lets-retreat-from-the-cities” book, nor its utopian reversal of “every house-in-the-city-its own-self-sufficient-wilderness”. The connections you make from your immediate world, whatever and wherever it is, to the hundreds of other worlds there are will be partly of your choosing and partly involuntary conditions thrust upon you that can't be controlled, but only managed. My claim is that an understanding of “Enough” offers an way of making both sorts of connections work for your best interests as a human being, rather than merely for your advancement in the game of Consumer-Investor, from where I'll be drawing my examples.

Where do our ideas of “Enough” come from? Our surrounding circumstances, most obviously, and from that amorphous something called “the general culture”, but, really, the idea of “Enough” depends on ourselves, on the choices we make as we try to achieve in our lives that cluster of emotions variously labeled Happiness, Contentment, Satisfaction, or, more fundamentally, the Meaning and Purpose of Life.

“Wow. Heavy duty stuff, “ you say to yourself, as you wonder what I could possibly say that hasn't already been said before, and more ably by others, and what might be my qualifications to comment on such lofty themes. The only answer I can give is the one that qualifies you as well, we both are human beings and the essential fact of our humanness -- that which distinguishes us from the other carbon-based life forms of this world-- is moral choice, which is a category that comprehends all but the most trivial instances “How much is enough?”

That's a sweeping claim, so let's do what a student in a beginning philosophy class would be required to do were she assigned the problem of separating the cases where choices are moral decisions from those where choices are merely matters of utility (including aesthetics, which should set a few teeth on edge, but bear with me, please).

[to be con't else where]

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