In the contemporary world, despair rising out of boredom is the luxury of the privileged. Why, C. P. Cavafy has asked, are they going back home so lost in thought?What does this uneasiness mean,
and this confusion? (How grave the faces have become!)
Why are the streets and squares rapidly emptying,
and why is everyone going back home so lost in thought?
In the privileged parts of the world, the most agreeable of routines -- commuting, working, shopping -- extinguish consciousness of suffering, brutality, and death while giving rise to a nostalgia for frontier hardship and individual heroism. Of course, the prevailing uneasiness has not gone unnoticed. In the late 1970s President Jimmy Carter's doleful speech on America's pervasive malaise served as but another irritating reminder, one promptly disregarded by an electorate welcoming the buoyancy of the . . .
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