42: Deep Thought on Life by Mark Vernon

By Mark Vernon

Mark Vernon takes his idea from forty two of the funniest, wisest, and quirkiest quotations concerning the significant questions in existence, and makes use of those as beginning issues for his great observations. In every one bankruptcy he explains what the best thinkers of all time have needed to say on topics reminiscent of everlasting lifestyles, paintings, love and intercourse, and the character of happiness; he attracts his personal conclusions, and may galvanize you to imagine deeply your self!

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Overnight, the parking problem would be solved. A few people might die but in the cost-benefit analysis – the methodology at the heart of modern economics – those deaths could be excused, because of the greater happiness that would be brought to millions. Any sane person would recoil at such a policy and a more sophisticated economist could demonstrate that another cost-benefit analysis shows why: millions of people would be made unhappy as a result of the capital threat hanging over them. However, Williams argued that it is not the calculation that shows the policy to be wrong.

The problem with diversions is that they obey a diminishing law of returns. Over time, they become boring, because they do not engage the individual; they only distract them. As diversions, they have nothing excellent about them. The situation can rapidly deteriorate: in Chuck Palahiuk’s novel Fight Club, the dull distractions of the consumer lifestyle, manifest in the narrator’s insomnia, leads him to the eponymous Fight Club, an underground meeting of men who engage in a therapy of bloody, bare-knuckle fighting.

The double worry is that science has such huge status in contemporary society that its results, plastered across the newspapers, come to be mistaken for the meaning of sex. This is what makes Marcus Aurelius’ bleak thought so prescient: is the contemporary, scientific understanding of sex anything more than ‘the rubbing together of pieces of gut, followed by the spasmodic secretion of a little bit of slime’? qxp 11/14/2007 12:28 PM Page 37 8 ‘Photography is truth. ’ Jean-Luc Godard Consider a moment from Alfred Hitchcock’s classic, Saboteur.

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