Luxuries and Vices

Bank Holiday Monday. And I have very much been in day off mode. I didn’t even bothered to get out of my sweats today.

I continued my way through Working and Thinking on the Waterfront.

Tease the people with “luxuries and vices” said Paul Henri Spaak. He was talking about how to rebuild the Belgian economy after the Second World War. Basically he said in order to rebuild and recover, the shops needed to be filled with luxuries and vices because people will work harder for toys and superfluities than they will for necessities.

That struck me as true. Think about how much effort and time we put into work to earn more money. To what end? To buy more stuff – a bigger house, a faster car, a bigger TV, high tech gadgets, luxury vacations etc. None of which we need. We need the basics – shelter, food, clothing – and these don’t have to be extravagant. They don’t have to be fancy, just functional and basic. And yet, it seems, that is not enough for us. We’ve been bullied into the consumer society, made to feel inadequate if all we have is the bare minimum to survive.

Surviving is for losers. Winners thrive.

Is that really what they want us to believe?

I finished reading Kim Addonizio’s What Is This Thing Called Love.  A few of my favourite poems in this collection were South of the Border, Body and Soul, Kisses, and Bad Girl.  I should probably go into some of them a little more in depth here, but perhaps another time. Overall I rate the book highly.  I like the realism and grittiness of Addonizio’s poems. She’s a poet I’d really like to meet in person, see if she lives up to the spirit I feel in her poems.


This to me is a full life

Yesterday was a perfect Sunday for reading. We were going to go down to Bristol for the day, but R’s dad is sick and bedridden and her mom thought it best if we didn’t come down. Plan B was to go see the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie that hit cinemas on Friday. I enjoyed the first one a lot and had high hopes that number two would be just as good.

I read some more of Eric Hoffer’s Working and Thinking on the Waterfront. I like the way he blends little snapshots of his day with commentary on what he’s been mulling over in his mind. He has a real bee in his bonnet against the intellectual class. He feels they have been a negative force in the development of society, that they are all vainglorious and ruin a country in pursuit of their own hunt for power and glory.

He has a very grim view of African Americans too (have to take into consideration the time period Hoffer is writing in, this particular diary was written between 1958 – 1959). Not in a racists superiority kind of way, but a negative view of what he perceived as the African-American’s ability to raise themselves above the inferiority complex that grew out of years of slavery in America.

I find something alluring, almost romantic about the way he lived as a writer. Hoffer is considered to be one of the twentieth century’s most important thinkers, yet he earned his living as a manual day labourer and longshoreman. He did his thinking while working and would scribble his words out during breaks and in the evening and his time off.

As he wrote:

“I need little to be contented: two good meals a day, tobacco, books that hold my interest, and a little writing every day. This to me is a full life.”

He wasn’t trying to achieve literary greatness, nor did he particularly consider himself a writer.  In fact, he felt having written and published a few books and being labeled a writer, that the title of writer was a burden.

To work up an appetite for an early lunch, we cut down part of a tree in the back garden that we’ve been meaning to do for ages. I’m sure our neighbours have been wanting us to get on with it too. The reason for the early lunch was so we could catch a matinee showing of the Guardians of the Galaxy 2.  There is a joy in manual labour, but sometimes I find it hard to relax into it because of my relationship with time. I suffer from that modern disease called FOMO.

Guardians 2 did not disappoint. It was action packed and funny. Some interesting themes explored like sibling rivalry and loving the one you’re with and the definition of family. I must say though mixtape volume 2 is not as good mixtape volume 1 in my opinion.

Mixtape Vol 1

Mixtape Vol 2

Sunday evening was an evening of lounging around. We watched two episodes of Channel 4’s Mutiny, a reality TV show that is recreating the 4,000 mile journey Captain Bligh had to make after his crew mutinied. I think it’s incredible what Captain Bligh did.


Uniquely human


The chief function of poetry