Recessions fears 1, climate concerns 0

If you’re scoring at home, (and who’s not?) getting off the buying merry go round is proving to be incredibly difficult – even with ever-present reminders of plague, drought, and the cost of everything cross-referenced with the need to exercise and eat better, the joys of being outdoors and seeing people again. It’s all so confusing, especially when the answers are RIGHT there. You’re so close, Brigette:

As gas and food prices climb, Brigette Engler, an artist based in New York City, said she’s driving to her second home upstate less often and cutting back on eating out.

“Twenty dollars seems extravagant at this point for lunch,” she said.

And before you start, no one mentioned anything about anything being easy. But that doesn’t mean everything has to be intentionally more difficult to understand, i.e., predicated on a growing economy and not spooking ‘investor confidence.’ JFC… what does any of that even mean? Please subscribe to my newsletter, Which Word to Italicize:

How people spend their money is shifting as the economy slows and inflation pushes prices higher everywhere including gas stations, grocery stores and luxury retail shops. The housing market, for example, is already feeling the pinch. Other industries have long been considered recession proof and may even be enjoying a bump as people start going out again after hunkering down during the pandemic.

Still, shoppers everywhere are feeling pressured. In May, an inflation metric that tracks prices on a wide range of goods and services jumped 8.6% from a year ago, the biggest jump since 1981. Consumers’ optimism about their finances and the overall economy sentiment fell to 50.2% in June, its lowest recorded level, according to the University of Michigan’s monthly index.

That’s from the same article and I don’t mean to single out CNBC. Just listen Marketplace or any business/economic news and the dissonance is a cacophony (Ed. ?). Unemployment is bad, but a tight labor market rattles the Dow. Prices at the pump have drivers worried about filling up, but what’s the real price of fuel? Hint: Europeans already know. Sure there’s a macro-micro disconnect. But the larger disconnect is the one we keep shoring up: individual actions of millions, propped up and egged on by the corporate and government altars to the status quo, heating up the planet beyond what it can support.

Whether or not we need more reminders of the need to change how we live, more are on the way.

Image: Merry-Go-Round Photograph by Jurgen Lorenzen

Parks and more Hughes we can use

What do you do on a date? An former boss, years ago, used to confide in me about the travails of limited funding, as they related to her love life, with a nice quip: Romance without finance is a nuisance.

I don’t know if it was original, probably not, and we can all be quick to agree with the sentiment. But how true is it? It might be easy for me to say that such a statement represents a mere lack of imagination on her part, that the nuisance would only refer to that to which we had grown accustomed, not the least the very ordinariness of great amusements, which themselves soon breed an ever-expanding ennui. No, what it is that we must afford is the almost constant introduction of something new and exciting, which does, yes, become easier with increased funding.

But sourced in this way, romance also grows infinitely more elusive, farther out of reach, psychologically, feebly balanced as an experience only reached at great expense. An arbitrary chasm opens between us and happiness, crossed only with artifice, such that our contentment itself becomes a predicate of erstwhile consideration, of currency. Now, there is a relationship between love and currency, but this is very different from conventional romance.

So, amusements displace imagination, let’s say, and though we might think it’s not as simple as that, the increased complexity can become so pervasive that it is difficult to find examples of its lack. This, too, then becomes a rather romantic notion, the pursuit of which we place on some plane beyond finance per se, as we begin to admit some of the things money cannot buy. Not that these are free, mind us, but that their enjoyment occupies a space other than that which can be exchanged for everyday consideration. They become, in essence, off limits from common experience. By definition, any such proximity would then be the very opposite of a nuisance. [oh, and you have emphasize the second syllable to make the phrase operative in ______’s original]

And while that’s not positive ID on romance always, it should be considered of its general direction. So how would we go about re-introducing this sort of space? Should we re-introduce it? Such an effort would be akin to a re-introduction to doing nothing; is that even necessary? Is anything more necessary, in the case of an unbecoming unfamiliarity?. Is there a compelling reason to sit in a park or read a poem to a lover, or both? Does such a space committed to prolonged and deliberate un-economic activity seem an anathema, or a godsend? Of all that is lost to barriers of cost, are the open spaces a nuisance, or is their very lack of charge, or production if you need to think of it that way, the disguised price of entry we search for in a world of nominal fees?

These things add up. Question the lack of green space, formerly known as parks and as places where people did nothing – itself a pejorative of the ill-repute we have allowed to befall the reading of poems and the wooing of girls, as if these were of no import and could be done without. Well, here we are. If the lack of nuisance no amount can afford is the mere absence of place and the fullness of an empty afternoon, all that’s needed is to remember that it is not so very far away, even as it seems.

Langston Hughes, Fire-Caught:

The gold moth did not love him
So, gorgeous, she flew away.
But the gray moth circled the flame
       Until the break of day.
And then, with wings like a dead desire,
She fell, fire-caught, into the flame.