On knowing that one is of utility to Empire, part 1

It’s, at best, an ambivalent thing, to understand that one’s heart’s work is, however incidentally, of service to a project in which one passionately does not believe. But there’s no point pussyfooting around the fact of my complicity. People don’t get to stay in rooms like this – in places like this – otherwise.

2 responses to “On knowing that one is of utility to Empire, part 1”

  1. Bob Jacobson says :

    This is a strange plaint, Adam. At least in our society, no one is compelled to do anything that he or she chooses not to do. You do it because you chose it. If it comes at a price in terms of self-regard, why is it important to you to stay in that room, in that place?

  2. speedbird says :

    I’m sure you’d agree that it’s more complicated than that, Bob.

    Consider, if nothing else, everything that’s bound up in the word “performance,” in all of its senses. While it’s quite unbelievably gratifying, at some very deep level, to perform at or close to your potential – as Gore Vidal reminded us in Gattaca, no one exceeds his or hers – as I’m sure you recognize well, the venues that allow us to do so are not exactly a dime a dozen. Some, most, of them come with strings attached. You know how it goes: you pray for a mission, and for your sins you are given one.

    In part, too, the ambivalence comes in because of everything else that’s implied by “performance,” whether in the sense of offering entertainment, of wearing a mask, of a quantity capable of being gauged and calibrated. It’s all in there, and all bound up inextricably (for me, anyway) with the sheer animal joy of operating at something close to peak output.

    Put another way, I’ve spent way more time in Graham Greene territory this year than I would have thought possible or likely. And I don’t mean the guy who always plays the stolid Indian wiseman.

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