The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde)

» June 10th, 2019

Note: I think Wilde was a great playwright but not so much a great novelist. The Picture of Dorian Gray seems more of a vehicle for Wilde to present his philosophy of aesthetics than a successful modernist work. That said, when a talent such as Wilde falters even a little the result is worth it, as is this book.

“A grande passion¬†is the privilege of people who have nothing to do.”

The quote is one of hundreds offered up by Lord Henry Wotton, who veritably speaks in such pithiness, and it’s entirely ridiculous as a factual claim. Which is not to suggest that there is not an element of truth in it. What I find worth pondering is the relationship between the work we are required to do to survive and the desires we want to pursue to live. One reason why I’m deeply intrigued by the guaranteed minimum income is that I see it as a step in the direction of allowing many Americans more time to live fuller lives dedicated to grand passions. The current requirement that we work incessantly to pay rent, eat, and cloth ourselves is an antiquated hangover idea in a society marked by our level of technology and wealth. We need a concerted protest movement against super wealth, be it in the form of individuals, familial dynasties, or corporations. Our happiness–one fueled by the desire to be curious and creative humans–hinges on it. How do we get there? Here are two seemingly random facts: a) my close friend could not find the time to read Middlemarch last year¬†because her work schedule drove her into the ground so she could make 60K a year; b)Amazon paid no federal income tax last year. Anyone want to connect these dots with me?

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