What Socrates supposedly was referring to by his comment that “the unexamined life is not worth living” is a life spent under other people’s rules and under the rule of other people as well as being stuck in a mindless routine without ever stopping to figure out what you really want. Perhaps a life of mindless routine might not worth living (I certainly wouldn’t want to, and for the most part, I managed to live on my own terms), but for sure it would be unfulfilling.
Apparently, people in droves are coming to the same conclusion, hence the phenomenon known as “the great resignation.” So many employees did their jobs without really thinking about what they wanted because they had to work so they could pay their bills, and these resignees would probably still be stuck in their mindless routines if not for the Bob. The abrupt change in routine changed things for a lot of people and gave them time to actually consider what they were doing. It also illuminated the briefness of life, at least for some people, and made them realize they didn’t want to be doing the job they were doing. (It makes me wonder if the currently vaunted low unemployment rate is less about full employment and more about people temporarily opting out.)
Although the newscasters have talked about this so-called great resignation, there’s been no talk about a change in people’s marital status as far as I know, but I would think that the enforced life change brought about by the Bob could also affect marriages. I do know a lot of people, when forced into close proximity to their mates, realized their shared lives were less than satisfactory. Some were married to abusers and with the Bob had no way to escape even temporarily the trauma of such treatment. Others were simply bored. In a few cases, the couple’s love was rekindled. It will be interesting to see what sociological changes will come from people being forced to examine this part of their life, too.
It does seem odd to me that such major changes are taking place, not because the changes are incomprehensible (because they aren’t; they are totally understandable), but that they are so far removed from my own life. I did start working shortly after the Bob showed up, but that change in my circumstances had nothing to do with anything going on in the world; it was just how things worked out. And, of course, I have no marital status or couplehood to change because that was a done deal more than a decade ago. (In just a few weeks, it will be the twelfth anniversary of his death.)
Even when I think I don’t examine my life (as I talked about in my blog post yesterday), I do tend to think about things and to look inward, if for no other reason than to examine my life for a blog topic. Luckily, there are no great changes in circumstances or thoughts or feelings to discuss, though I am aware of small fluctuations during the day. This close to the anniversary, for example, I tend to tear up a bit now and again, but it’s not worth talking about because of the brevity of those moods. (I hate to use the word “mood,” because they are not moods so much as deep feelings rising to the surface, but there’s really no other word to describe such brief fluctuations in feelings.)
I do seem to be in a routine, however — working, blogging, reading, thinking — but it’s not the mindless routine that Socrates was against but rather a mindful routine.
What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?
A fun book for not-so-fun times.
Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.
January 21, 2022 at 5:00 pm
It isn’t entirely clear to me that the quote attributed to Socrates is about a person stopping to think about what she really wants. This interpretation suggests an inward self-examination into subjective wants or needs. Another interpretation might be that a life unexamined by others (obscurity) isn’t worth living. It seems to me his philosophy revolved around an acceptance of ignorance and the use of questioning and debate in search of some sort of objective truth. Since he seems to have spent much of his life debating such things, and the quote is attributed to near the end of life, it seems unlikely it refers to self-inquiry only. He apparently said it in the context of essentially being told to shut up or be killed.
I’m not much of a believer in objective truths, but I am a believer in debate and inquiry in search of them. Mundane need not be mindless. On the contrary, it’s been said that “God is in the details”. Or maybe it’s the devil. Or something.
Anyway, it will be two years next week, and I’m probably doing a bit of navel gazing myself.
January 21, 2022 at 5:24 pm
It could be one those sayings that seems to have a deep meaning but on reflection means nothing much.
And yes, the anniversary always seems to be a time of reflection, feeling, and trying to get through the day.