A New Golden Age? The Empty Soul Revs Up, Getting Ever Better at Gobbling Things Into Its Seemingly Bottomless And Insatiable Abyss, And We Call It Prosperity

Some good news. We are basically living in the most peaceful and prosperous moment in human history. Ever. Here’s Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator:

A study in the current issue of The Lancet shows […] Global life expectancy now stands at a new high of 71.5 years, up six years since 1990. In India, life expectancy is up seven years for men, and 10 for women. It’s rising faster in the impoverished east of Africa than anywhere else on the planet. In Rwanda and Ethiopia, life expectancy has risen by 15 years. […] The World Bank’s rate of extreme poverty (those living on less than $1.25 a day) has more than halved since 1990, […] Just over a century ago, a period of similarly rapid progress was coming to an abrupt end. The Belle Époque was a generation of scientific, medical and artistic advances, which, then, felt unstoppable. John Buchan summed up this mood in his 1913 novel The Power House. “You think that a wall as solid as the earth separates civilisation from barbarism,” one of his characters says. “I tell you: the division is a thread, a sheet of glass. A touch here, a push there, and you bring back the reign of Saturn.” So it was to prove. Nothing is irreversible. And there will be a great many people for whom life is tough, and looks set to remain so for some time. We still have a lamentably long list of problems to solve. But in the round, there’s no denying it: we are living in the Golden Era. There has never been a better reason for people the world over to wish each other a happy and prosperous new year.

I don’t want to downplay the real good here for the poorest of the poor. But isn’t it interesting that the prosperity isn’t felt in terms of most people’s personal immortality projects? In other words, most people are subjectively more or less happy, secure, and satisfied–or unsatisfied–with their attempts at meaning making as they’ve always been.

The unease and restlessness persists. Things can get substantially better materially, yet nothing works. You know what I mean. Why is that?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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2 Responses to A New Golden Age? The Empty Soul Revs Up, Getting Ever Better at Gobbling Things Into Its Seemingly Bottomless And Insatiable Abyss, And We Call It Prosperity

  1. Even our language is infected. What is so beatific about a “Golden” Age? A gilded cage is still a cage. Increased prosperity and physical well-being have their place…But they do nothing to provide meaning. And may in fact hinder the depth of said. Meaning is meager in a world full of maniacal Midases…

  2. I think this is exactly what you would expect to find if most people were looking for meaning in all the wrong places and instructed to do so by the very people entrusted with knowing where to look.

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