Almost every time I open Medium, I find myself bombarded with articles about how to get rich, how to write for publications that will make me rich (almost always if not instantaneously, then within a few weeks, or months at most), how to become more proficient as a writer, or how to increase my sphere of influence, through gaining followers, getting more reads, and — the bottom line — monetising what I do.
Here’s the rub. I want to survive and thrive as much as the next fellow. Do I want untold riches? No. I want enough. What’s enough? Some writers at the Azimuth Project (look it up) have tackled that. Around 45,000 euro (and roughly the same in dollars) per annum would be a healthy income, allowing everything we need, even in the global north. The sum in the global south would be even less. But what would allow us to make this switch in ambition? How could we aim low, instead of high, and where does this leave us when the richest one percent took two thirds of the profit to swell their coffers over the last two years? Where their impact on the ecological emergency dwarfs that of us little people?
Here’s what I’ve been reading recently that makes me wonder about how much surviving and thriving as the theme creates the very problems it attempts to solve:
- Rohinton Mistry’s book, A Fine Balance, tells the story of a group of people whose lives intersect during the seventies and eighties in India. It’s a reminder, if we needed one, of the sheer brutality of the experience those whose freedom to choose is completely curtailed by poverty and class. The lesson: don’t tell others how to live, or even how to achieve success, unless you know the cohort you’re speaking to faces almost exactly the same issues you face yourselves. Since some of you have faced addiction, obsessive compulsion, trauma during childhood, relationship and professional issues related to these, concerns around ecological devastation that has affected you personally, or other issues that I write about, those are the people my articles mainly address.
- Salaambo by Gustav Flaubert is an imagined reconstruction of the seige of Carthage with the protagonist as the young daughter of Hamilcar, father to Hannibal. The story mainly illustrates how the lust for power, wealth and control is used by all sides to justify the horrors of starvation, rape, torture, imprisonment…