Night is a good time to reflect, it brings comfort, detachment from routine. Anytime I find myself on a night flight across the Atlantic, I take sometime to reflect, with many different thoughts and ideas scattering my mind.
Like in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Mother night,” one of his best works, in my opinion. There is some pleasure in just reading the title - it puts you at ease.
In the book the protagonist goes through hell and back. The book takes an interesting perspective, where the main character speaks in the third person, providing a feeling of distance, slightly detached from reality. In the final scene, sitting in the prison cell, he is offered a chance at vindication.
It turned out that he was an American agent during the war, not just a Nazi collaborator.
He holds in his hands a letter from his US Army handler, offering him freedom. Freedom. Freedom is something we all strive to attain, but our main character was tired. Tired of the life he had lived, he said “the very thought of (freedom) made me nauseous.”
It happens, so thanks for the mother night.
But there is more to it – in times of stress, your brain shortens its attention span, to a week, a day or even less. It does this to maintain sanity, to maintain control and it’s the only way for your mind to cope with the situation at hand.
Focusing on problems one by one, you begin to disconnect yourself from the noise, the distractions. That’s how you survive. That’s how you achieve freedom.
One of the best minds of our times, in my opinion, Nicholas Taleb, posed the question on how to be successful in life. His response: first, you have to survive.
Everything else comes after that.
I admire people who don’t watch the daily news; unfortunately, I cannot bring myself to this level of discipline just yet. There is a scientology book, titled ‘A new slant on life,’ which refers to news outlets as ‘merchants of chaos’, and they nailed it.
It’s way better to turn off TV and think for yourself. And it is difficult, because thinking requires you to hold in your head two opposite sides of the argument simultaneously.
It’s not comfortable for most, but some people are just wired that way. Like electricity – thinking only happens if there is charge difference between two points in your brain.
Well, bringing it to practical terms. The Italian election was held on March 4th and no political group or party won an outright majority, resulting in a hung parliament.
No surprise there. Italy has a strong anti Euro sentiment after realizing that they are beginning to lose control of their own currency. This is not a good sign, obviously. In the years past, if imported goods were killing the domestic producers, the Italian Government could simply devalue the Lira until balance was restored.
Under the Euro regime, that freedom is removed. They are being held hostage by the Union. There is a growing sentiment to get out.
But, there is the ‘Hotel California’ problem – you can check out anytime you’d like, but you can never leave.
The Italian banking system is weak in its knees, on life support, all because of the European Central Bank, and the policies enacted by ‘Super’ Mario Draghi. Now what would happen in Italy if the Five Star Movement comes to power and they want out of the Euro?
Every rich Italian would open an account in a German bank.
How do you say “disaster” in Italian?
So, as it stands, nothing will happen, the ‘merchants of chaos’ have their field day once again, they seem to be the ones really winning.
It will be a “muddle through” forever, so be it.
The only way to help these people is to let them be.
Night is good and then the stars lost the war and the morning came.
Tom Kubiak is the author of The Traveler