As Inigo recently mentioned, he is currently in Central America visiting an old friend who "has a Thoreau-like lifestyle." His updates have been like catnip to us - how wonderful, we find ourselves thinking, to live so simply, with the beach at one's doorstep, no cares, no responsibilities...
Wait a minute! Is not the stated and relentlessly repeated mission of this blog to inform and educate people that such a lifestyle is available to anyone, anywhere?!? Have we not argued extensively (some might say a bit too extensively...) that all experiences are equivalent; that the "pleasures" we think we experience are no better (or worse) than the worst horrors imaginable?!?
We have, and we have. Which, to steal a phrase from a former (and, let it be said, quite awful) Federal Reserve chairman, poses a bit of a conundrum. To wit - if all experience is equivalent, then why do we feel such a pull to the "Gone Bamboo" lifestyle (hereafter referred to as GB)? Indeed, even as we covet this bucolic existence we chastise ourselves for the ridiculousness of our feelings...yet cannot fully shake them. The reality is, when it comes right down to it...we honestly believe we would be happier living such a life.
So we wondered - does such an admission mean we are less absurd than we thought? Is a desire to live a life free of desire...still a desire? Conversely, is the individual who chooses to live such a life actually more absurd, or has he simply put himself in a more favorable position? Put it this way - while we have argued (and still believe) circumstances are irrelevant, we have also written often about the difficulties of living an absurd life in a decidedly non-absurd world. Clearly such issues are less prevalent for one who has GB, and perhaps it is this that explains the appeal.
In other words, the simpler one's life, the fewer the obstacles to truly living in each moment. While we can devise tricks to constantly remind ourselves of the absurd, the fact is that human nature (and much of civilization) is essentially non-absurd (else we would have died off long ago). Thus, to GB could be seen as a strategy to remove such complications - i.e., to facilitate an easier path to living the absurd life.
Hmm...when viewed this way, GB sounds like just another trick (albeit a very sophisticated one) to counteract one's innate nature. The question, to us, comes down to this - would one who has GB continue to live the same carefree life if placed in a different environment? Said a different way - does the decision to live such a life mean one is inherently more absurd...or that one is simply making it easier on oneself to do so? Or are these arbitrary, thin, and irrelevant distinctions?
The unfortunate answer here is...we're really not sure. We honestly believe nothing matters, and that experiences are indeed equivalent. We can argue these points endlessly, citing numerous reasons they must be true. And yet, we cannot escape the feeling that the absurd man, in some way, belongs by the beach, eating seafood and vegetables, taking long walks, and reading tattered second-hand books.
As we said, it is a conundrum...