Apathy: Facilitating Happiness in Your Community

Whats stopping me from not taking advantage of all the resources around me?

Edward Gorey: “I really think I write about everyday life. I don’t think I’m quite as odd as others say I am. Life is intrinsically, well, boring and dangerous at the same time. At any given moment the floor may open up. Of course, it almost never does; that’s what makes it so boring.”

The Screwtape Letters

“The Danger of the Slippery Slope to Nothingness”

Speaking to his demon nephew, Screwtape encourages the young tempter to continue to foster a human man who he is trying to lead to hell by cultivating vice. This vice, all Christian and otherwise religious notions aside, is quite noxious…not to mention real. He writes:

3) …You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers or his work or his sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday’s paper will do. You can make him waste his time not only in conversation he enjoys with people whom he likes, but in conversations with those he cares nothing about on subjects that bore him. You can make him do nothing at all for long periods. You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a
dead fire in a cold room. All the healthy and outgoing activities which we want him to avoid can be inhibited
and nothing given in return, so that at last he may say, as one of my own patients said on his arrival down
here, “I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked”.

… Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man’s best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim
labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance
association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off.

-C.S. Lewis, Letter #12

Fear is a powerful motivator. As Dave Lankes has alluded to in the Introduction to Librarianship class, being “comfortably numb” is a threat to a good life, and an insipid reality.

We may be vaguely satisfied with floating through life. It might be enough to have the  weak satisfaction that we have stayed out of trouble. It might be enough.

Listless, waiflike, half in a stupor, scared and bored. I am not sure that it is enough to say to life: “I’ll take what i can get, but relinquish control of my life because it is easier that way.”


Why not commandeer your consciousness?
Why not take control of your life, give yourself what you deserve; discover how good life can be. You could be a stamp collector. A chocolate connoisseur. A philosopher. A cat meme creator.



Have you ever been totally engrossed in a project, just thrilled out of yo’ tree?

The above question is what I need you to agree to get my argument off the ground. That moments like that exist in human experience, however fleeting they may be.

I am not trying to give you a comprehensive “How to live your life” crash course, here.

I am just reassessing what librarians will do as knowledge facilitators, and how they will do it.

What DOES it mean to improve society or individuals?  I am taking a stab at this proposal before I thoroughly read Lankes’ “How to Improve Society” thread so I can determine my own position on it; unadulterated, first.

What DOES it mean, “facilitating knowledge?”

Shouldn’t we be facilitating HAPPINESS in order to improve society?

I am not recommending, of course, that one simply chase the pleasures of life. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll are generally not lasting *zingers* (i.e. their pleasure is short lived).

So how would one facilitate happiness in society?
Install beer gardens and dopamine vending machines in libraries. Done.

No, a better assumption is that knowledge (self-awareness, understanding yourself in your historical moment, discovering what will lead to your eudamonia, etc.) is the way to happiness. Knowledge, use of information can bring understanding and empowerment. Political and social empowerment, not to mention cultivation of the whole person.


Philosophy aside. Games of poking holes in argument, criticism, faulty reasoning ASIDE.

Isn’t it better to do what you like?
To have more *zing* moments?
Between Librarianship and Philosophy,perhaps it is your attitude that matters most. My general attitude, if I was pressed to tell you, is a general “Bring it on. I am here for the ride.” “Even if this experience is unpleasant, it will be another adventure.”
“This is not what I had planned.” At least you can laugh about it and say: “How strange this life is!”

I would rather experience the weird, jarring, disturbing, and strange than experience constant comfort; pillowed or “numb.”

To conclude, I am hardly an enlightened being. I do not have it all figured out. I am not always happy.

My life is characterized by a constant forgetting. Oh, I should remember my attitude on life, always mindful, always present, ready for adventure. But I forget. I get caught in moments of chocolate craving or bemoaning the 3.5 mile bike ride home in the dark (…like i have to do after I finish this post… As my boss would say: “Womp Womp” As I should say: “ADVENTURE!”), the bug that bit me, the thought of working out later, the worry, the rumble of my stomach, etc.

But I have felt and seen glimpses of happiness. And I am still figuring this out, same as you (unless you’ve figured it out already?! Lemme know.)

That is why I am writing. If I am wrong, please tell me why. Gently, if you would, and in words I will understand.

This is my own path to enlightenment…

We have thought of librarians as Teachers and even Priests…Why not Librarians as Bodhisattvas?–helping us to be happy.   : )





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s