Former Managing Director of the Turning Torso skyscraper in Sweden, Johnny Örbäck, once stated the following “hierarchy of needs” (in an episode of Extreme Engineering): what we need is Love, Food and a Beautiful Place to Live.
In that very order!
I like this vision of priorities better than the unnecessarily linear “hierarchy of needs” by Maslow in which the satisfaction of physiological and logistical needs precedes the emergence of relational and existential preoccupations.
Örbäck’s “hierarchy of needs” also reminds me of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s statement in the Idiot: “Beauty will save the world.”
“No particle is still, each jerks about erratically, making tiny dashes hither and yon only perpetually to bounce back again. It looks perhaps like a milling crowd or a crowded dance floor seen from high above, or like a swarm of darting midges; and it is indeed a manifestation of, and the most direct evidence for, the deathless dance of molecules.” (1)
We are made of this Brownian motion and commotion.
Sit still for a moment.
Meditate on the dance that you are.
(1) R. W. Gerard, Unresting Cells, 1940.
in the pause between breaths.
Death is so funny, Ghost of Desire.
The West is in a constant war with reality: perpetually dissatisfied with what is, we are desperately trying to perfect it. This one and only reality seems never enough and we feel ever entitled to more: bigger houses, bigger (hybrid) cars, bigger (Anime-sized) eyes, bigger market shares, bigger tax deductions, bigger incomes, bigger bonuses, bigger breasts, bigger penises, bigger egos, and bigger wars. We have been culturally programmed to endlessly optimize and supersize, and to constantly perfect ourselves and everyone else around us.
Our appetite for more has been kindled to the level of insatiability. No wonder we feel psychologically starved and existentially empty.
We have been taught to chase the unattainable: to be more than what we are at any given point in time. We are a culture of idealistically naive strivers unable to be content with what is if only for a moment. This absurdly unrealistic goal (to be more than what we are at any given point in time) comes with the high cost of psychological dependence. Feeling chronically imperfect, we sell out for reassurance, validation and approval. Feeling chronically incomplete, we compete in consumption and stuff ourselves beyond measure.
This chronic deficit of self-acceptance becomes a matter of national deficit and undermines the socio-political independence of our society. Long-term sovereignty of a nation rests with psychological independence of its constituents. A nation of psychologically insecure denizens is at war with itself, and is, thus, divided.