Thursday, February 02, 2006

Wasting Time, Becky Kelly, USA


During the World Economic Forum, a moral dilemma was debated: what is the eighth deadly sin, and could it be useful? A number of ideas were put forward, cynicism, fear, self-idolatry, rampant consumerism, but the “winner” was spiritlessness, proposed by Pekka Himanen a professor from Helsinki. It means “having no beliefs, no dreams, no vision, and therefore doing nothing”. The punishment for the new sin of spiritless apathy is to be condemned to live in a world where you could have made a difference, but didn’t. Doesn’t sound too bad really, not like being boiled in oil.

The original seven deadly sins are: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride, enumerated back in the sixth century by St Gregory the Great and they’re still the base motives that lead to most modern crimes, but in our celebrity obsessed culture, they’re hardly seen as sins at all. Virtue, it seems, is still its own reward.

Everyone’s got an idea of what the 8th deadly sin should be, BBC radio listeners voted for apathy, P.J. Brown says it’s using numbers as objects, Terry Pratchett thought it was the utterance of the term “core values”, it’s been interpreted as online quilt art, and is the theme of deviant art. Jessica Mann says the 8th deadly sin is being caught, Johnny Golgotha thinks it’s Cockteasing, this blogger thinks it’s spam, and if you really want to get heavy, here are the philosophers.

My pick for 8th is the cellphone, the tiny tyrant, that shrill little voice, She who Must Be Obeyed. You’re discussing an earth-shattering emotional event with a friend, the phone rings, hold it right there, THE PHONE COMES FIRST. You are forced to listen to simpering platitudes with your tears drying on your cheeks and when the call is dispensed with, the moment is lost forever. There’s also the pernicious practice of humming tunelessly along to your I-Pod, and sending sick child and Irish good luck e-mails, ditto Powerpoint presentations about angels.

No comments: