The other side of pursuit of passion

by phil on Saturday May 26, 2007 10:02 AM

The whole "pursuit of passion" business does have it's other side to it. First of all, you can't say, with "pursuit of passion" that your passion is "other people." That's just another way of saying you're a people-person.

Pursuit of Passion means doing things for their own sake. That's fine. It means being an autotelic person, a mode of living heavily endorsed by the book Flow, a pop-psych book about how to achieve optimal experience.

The ultimate imagination of a PoP person, is like some prolific writer living in China, writing about the socioeconomic strains happening in a growing East-Asian country. Or some trippy DJ in Goa. Or a guy that lives out of his car with satellite internet access doing web design on the cliffs of Sedona. In other words, Total Devotion to the dream.

But I think the middle-ground imagination, one that is much closer to the reality of how most people get their PoP fix, is being a dabbler or having a hobby. People who work during the day, but are working on their novel at night. Or people who do sailing on the weekends. Or people whose jobs are kind of in a field they enjoy, but also pay well.

But there is an uncharitable imagination of PoP. That's just being a nerd or workaholic. Staying up till 4AM playing World of Warcraft so you can win awesome virtual swords. Or going to work for 65 hours a week, shunning vacations, decent eating, and your family. That's mindless and meaningless devotion to an object. Yeah, you're doing things for their own sake, but you're also performing an incredible ascetism. It's more of giving into an involuntary obsession or tick.

Just like every ideology or concept, the pursuit of passion, as a lifestyle imperative, has plenty of room for abuse.

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