Postmodern classic?

Monday, March 05, 2007

The moral dilemma

"Anna Nicole Smith was not only a stupid sex symbol. She was a symbol for stupid sex."

I ran across this article at TCS which discussed Anna Nicole Smith, and I was very impressed with it, forget who recommended it first (might've been Winds of Change). It really delved deep into why she dominated the media coverage over the past week, what kind of example she led and the people who were fascinated by it. I heartily recommend it for full reading.

On another level, I was just thinking of the more influential books I've read, and I keep coming back to W. Somerset Maugham's 'The Razors Edge'. Wikipedia does a good review of it, with a plot summary and note that he kind of anticipates the Beats look towards the East, as his character Larry changed his life in India to aspire to happiness. But the moral at the end of the story is what really gets me, time after time.

Maugham ends his narrative by suggesting that all the characters got what they wanted in the end: "Elliott social eminence; Isabel an assured position; . . . Sophie death; and Larry happiness."

It's an interesting dilemma, I think- not that life is suffering, in the Eastern sense- but the Western sense of nihilism that follows the aftermath of achieving your goal, and not being able to cope with it or the consequences. I find that remarkably prescient when I look at certain things in my life, as you have to make certain compromises and sacrifices to do the things you want. Sometimes it seems I'm headed down that track. One of the things that is evident to me at this moment is the mess my personal life has become and I wonder if that's related. Maybe I'm just a little down at the moment. Not quite nihilism, but I understand...