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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Costa permanence

Consider this Santayana quote on the deceptive desire for permanence

That the end of life should be death may sound sad: yet what other end can anything have?

The end of an evening party is to go to bed; but its use is to gather congenial people together, that they may pass the time pleasantly. An invitation to the dance is not rendered ironical because the dance cannot last for ever; the youngest of us and the most vigorously wound up, after a few hours, has had enough of sinuous stepping and prancing.

The transitoriness of things is essential to their physical being, and not at all sad in itself; it becomes sad by virtue of a sentimental illusion, which makes us imagine that they wish to endure, and that their end is always untimely; but in a healthy nature it is not so.
George Santayana - Some Turns of Thought in Modern Philosophy

If we extend the idea, it is easy enough to see how a deceptive yearning for permanence may be used to justify all kinds of authoritarian trends. There are some curious byways one might explore with the idea too.

Take Costa coffee shops for example. After much vehement local opposition a new one has opened in Bakewell, Derbyshire. Bakewell is in the Peak District National Park but it made no difference in the end. Veni, vidi, vici as usual.

There are other factors of course, but do huge corporate bodies provide the illusion of beneficial permanence? Do we cosy up to the illusion via a cup of Costa’s second-rate coffee?

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Sackerson said...

1. You have to work very smart and hard to beat off pressure from large commercial enterprises, but Totnes managed it:

... even so, one then gets indignant comments from those who think that freedom means clearing small business out of the way of big business:

2. Another thought your piece sparks, is how brands have somehow exploited our desire for reassuring familiarity.

James Higham said...

Yes but it takes so much coordinated effort.