Thursday, June 26, 2008

Shopping or Protest on Saturday

"It isn't rationalism that will overcome the religious zealots, but ordinary shopping and all that it entails - jobs for a start, and peace, and some commitment to realisable pleasures, the promise of appetites sated in this world, not the next. Rather shop than pray." (127)

Saturday explores the tension between the self and the world and how one situates both thinking for oneself and thinking globally at the same time. The above quote, which resonates with comments made by both our President and Vice President, seems to say that the balance is maintained by shopping. The text seems somewhat at odds with this type of understanding with its constant reference to social involvement and political discussion. So, where is the balance? How does this tie in with religion in both the fundamentalist terrorist way and in an everyday American way?

8 comments:

yanks4life10 said...

This is a great quote that does a great job of depicting western individualism and the preservation of self interest. We deal with situations and issues by going out and finding our own self satisfaction rather than concentrating our ideas and emotions on the situation at hand. Likewise, the fundamentalists concentrate their life on the preservation of their place in the next world (being the after life). This is what seperates the two cultures; the influence of religion in everyday life is almost no more for them as shopping is for us. We gain satisifaction while they seek truth and a better life when they die.

op.3no.2 said...

Well, all our progress has arisen out of the Renaissance, when people started living for the life now instead of the afterlife. It was the triumph of reason over emotion. If shopping will boost the economy and raise more people out of poverty, then it is reasonable to advocate that in the face of terrorism, which seems backwards in its concentration on the afterlife.

overboard said...

To turn it on it's head, fundamentalist Islam -- I would hazard a guess -- would say 'Pray rather than shop.' Part of my paper is dealing with this sort of 'individual against the world' idea because it is a natural progression of terrorism in global society. It shows that borders are more or less obsolete, or at the very least cause about as much strife and conflict in the world a religion has for the past 2000 years.

John Collins said...

I think this quote shows the divide between radical fundamentalists and Western societies very well. The radical fundamentalists who carry out terrorist acts like suicide bombings do so with the belief that everything they desire (like the whole thing about 72 virgins) will be theres in the after life. As Sihem showed in The Attack, the people who are willing to kill themselves for the cause have essentially renounced earthly possesions.

Western societies, in particular the United States, couldn't be more different than those fundamentalist ideals. Rather than rejecting earthly possessions, we are consumed by them. Everything is about these "realisable pleasures" and doing everything in our power to acquire them. Even though it was about Austrialia and not the United States, I think The Unknown Terrorist was a perfect example of this. Throughout the entire story Richard Flanagan injects commericials and ads to show that no matter what global problem is affecting the country, like terrorism, people are more concerned with buying things. Commercialization and consumerism have essentially become American religions.

I'm not sure what the balance between the two is, but I think that both are extremely self-serving.

CAH said...

I agree they have renounced worldly possessions. I can't help but remember Mother Theresa who did the same thing but then wanted to LIVE to help her fellow man and she did. I cannot find a minister anywhere who will condemn her to hell. It is a Christlike life. I'm not a Catholic. I believe the dramatic tension in society at this point has been over people who want to "have the most money." Some who do are willing to give, give, give to help their fellow man and none of them are living like Mother Theresa with her vow of poverty. We cannot love money/things we have to love and give to others. Think of what the Islamic extremists are dying for--the warped ideology. Lots to think about. CAH

JE said...

That was a great quoke. I agree that both are set on self. The selfish desires of both parties leaves a residue of distuction. There are a number of simularities between these two parties, but I would say the terrorism happens effect more than just self. If someone has a better view, please let me know. Shopping and the self absorbtion of the Western society, can damage a life. It seems that we are in a society that has adapted to the gratification of individualism and fails to support the groups. Amercica is more than one, and only one part of the world. Macro, micro.

Vijay said...

I feel that this quote signifies our idea of the ideal world. In other words we believe that our way of life is the only way we can have a peaceful world. Correct me if I am wrong, but don't fundamentalist terrorists believe that their ideas will lead to the same outcome. They want to impose their beliefs on us, and at the same time we believe that our way of life should be dominate.

We don't force our ideas on these other countries through the same actions. However we still send the same message by opening large corporations like Wal-Mart and McDonalds into their society. In a sense we are destroying their culture through consumerism.

Jiggloz said...

Would it be hard to say that when he refers to shopping he is also reffering to something more; capitalism. We feed ourselves and fundamentally thrive from shopping. We look to what can help us survive now, and "not the next" a reference that looks to the future. We see the damage of capitalism but rather sit back "commit to realisable pleasures" and forget about what will happen. So in someways, I agree with Vijay we are destroying culture through consumerism.