A few thoughts on a book my friend J. got me for my birthday. It is called “Status Anxiety” and is by Alain de Botton, a great philosopher from England who wrote one of my favorite books “The Art of Travel”.
There are 5 main causes for status anxiety, and they are: lovelessness, expectation, meritocracy, snobbery and dependence. The 5 solutions that he proposes for status anxiety are: philosophy, art, politics, religion and bohemia.
Our sense of identity is held captive by the judgments of those we live among.
The price we have paid for expecting to be so much more than our ancestors is a perpetual anxiety that we are far from being all we might be.
What is art good for?
Wealth has become the conventional basis of esteem.
The ruling ideas of every age are always the ideas of the ruling class.
Such destitution was, for a bohemian, vastly to be preferred to the horror of wasting his life on a job he despised. charles Baudelaire declared that all occupation were soul-destroying, save for writing poetry and –even less plausibly—being a warrior. When Marcel Duchamp visited New York in 1915, he described Greenwich Village as a “true bohemia” because the place was, he said “full of people doing nothing”.
A mature solution to status anxiety may be said to begin with the recognition that status is available from, and awarded by, a variety of different audiences—industrialists, bohemians, families, philosophers—and that our choice among them may be free and willed.