The Thinking 
Housewife
 

The Vital Child

May 11, 2009

Money is not the ultimate status symbol in our world. Energy is.

When someone asks what you do for a living, they are often wondering not how much money you make, but how dynamic you are.

Civilization in the advanced stages of nihilism exhibits this worship of energy. This is one of the profound insights of Father Seraphim Rose, the Orthodox priest who wrote his penetrating analysis of our condition. At Lawrence Auster’s site, there have been interesting discussions about what Rose calls Vitalism, including these comments here, and Auster has written a good summary of Rose’s ideas.

There are so many signs of the cult of energy today, it would be hard to catalogue them all. Let’s focus on one: the Vital Child.

The Vital Child is not a creature of repose. He is a dynamic, rapidly evolving being, capable of “socialization” even as an infant. He does not gaze at the walls wondering as children have done since the dawn of history why childhood is so long. His days are a blur. Television and electronic games fill any meager void and all useless cracks in a life of scheduled activity.

The Vital Child does not indulge in random play, except in small, accidental doses. His play is organized, efficient, directed toward rational self-improvement. He pursues sports with careerist intensity. This is not play, but a means of demonstrating his inner dynamism, of activating his miniature will.

Never pause: that is the inscription carved on the threshold of his youth. Standardized tests, sports,  clubs, long school days, all at a pace that far exceeds that of sleepier times – these fill his teenage years, plus more television, games and popular music. Never pause. All this prepares him for the raw energy he will need later. This is his vital initiation into vitality. The Vital Child will keep on moving. He has no expectation of repose and no acquaintance with reflection. He reveres movement: the movement of his own emotions, of his own half-formed will, and of an ultimately meaningless world beyond the self.

 

What is work?

May 11, 2009

A group of executives gathered for a meeting in the offices of a West Coast software company. The participants included one female vice president for marketing, beautifully coiffed and dressed in a silk suit. As soon as the meeting began, she took out her note pad and began writing. She appeared thoroughly engaged.

From over her shoulder, another participant glimpsed at the words on her page. They did not appear relevant:
 
       Pick up Elsie’s invitations
       Dry cleaners
       Party favors
       Chicken cutlets
       Dentist, 4 p.m.
    
The vice president was writing a mother’s shopping and errand list. According to a friend who related this incident, this woman was present in body, not in spirit. She was similar in function to those buxom carved figureheads on the prow of sailing vessels, leading the way through turbulent seas with beauty and an unvarying smile.