This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

You are needy

When you notice the absence in most historical periods of material comforts that you deem essential to your happiness, that traditional man was not nearly so needy as you. For example, when you realize that he did not have breath mints and neatly packaged deodorant sticks, do not assume he was unhappy because of it. It is true that you would be made uncomfortable if such things were withheld from you, but this is not so for your ancestor, for he did not have your highly developed collection of petty needs. He did not live his whole life under the influence of marketing and propaganda, with new ‘needs’ thrust in his face all day every day. Instead, he knew what it was like to smell human, and for his neighbors to smell human, and while it would probably be a stretch to suggest that he did not notice it, it would be wrong to project onto him the same feelings you could experience. It is a question of degree, and what for you would amount to agony or disgust might for him amount to a small annoyance barely noticed, or noticed and set aside without a second thought, or peacefully endured as part of the nature of things. Do not pity anyway for not living in your world. It would be wiser, when you realize the great many things he did not have, to judge him happier for it, and wonder in some ways if he would not pity you.

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