Last night at dinner with friends we were talking about how the crash that caused the Great Depression actually took two years to fully play out and cause dire effects to peoples’ lives. Who knows what eight years of Bush, and the events of the last month will have in the coming months and years on our economy. Scary to think.
Let us look to Voltaire’s Candide, and the metaphor of the garden. In answer to Pangloss’ optimism, Candide declares at the end that “we must cultivate our garden.” Critics argue that Voltaire advocates pessimism; that Candide’s ambiguous declaration was a repudiation of Pangloss, and that isolation on the farm was a rejection of society and represented a loss of hope in mankind.
I don’t think Candide was all that pessimistic, and often I think about this quote as a dictum on how to live life. I read it as every individuals’ responsibility to themselves and their livelihood. It is rather isolationist, which could be viewed as pessimism. It certainly doesn’t align with the side of me devoted to public service. On the other hand I often fantasize about returning to some kind of agrarian ideal, alone on the land and sustaining myself free from capitalism and the free market.
But in light of my literal reading of the text, the stock market, and our increasingly meaningless dollars, I continue to commit myself to the cultivation of my garden. A casual hobby may increase my chances for survival one of these dark days. I don’t know about you, but I’m stockpiling seeds.
My carrots are finally maturing. Very exciting. Carrots take a long time.
This is very exciting too, my lettuces just re-grew on their own. No new seeding required. New growth of fresh beautiful leaves. So tasty.