Although no longer used as a compound, “bargain” was originally formed in the early 1700s by combining “bar” and “gain”. While the meaning of “gain” is clear, the relevant sense of “bar” is less certain. Two prominent theories disagree about the correct meaning of “bar”: one theory suggests that “bar” refers here to the legal term associated with lawyers (or “barristers”), while the other theory asserts that the relevant “bar” is the one at which alcohol is served.
Both theories agree that “bargain” referred originally to an agreement disadvantageous to a swindled party and that “bargain” gradually shifted in denotation and connotation from the negative “that which is unjustly obtained at a reduced price” to the more positive “that which is obtained at a reduced price”. The “Legalists”, as they call themselves, argue that “bargain” originally referred to the type of deals sly lawyers managed to obtain for clients. If a clever person swindled someone else, people would say that the beneficiary had gained the sort of deal usually obtained only by “the bar”—a shortened form of “members of the bar”, i.e. lawyers. “Alcoholics,” on the other hand, insist that “bargain” was the sort of “gain” a person might obtain from someone who had been drinking heavily at a “bar;” the Alkies—as many know the group—has found evidence that con artists would pace their drinking carefully to remain more or less sober while befriending drunken people at bars. The con artists would then convince these drunken people to sell or exchange valuables at low prices and coax the intoxicated dupes into making imprudent bets and investments. A successful con would often brag that he or she had walked away with a “bar gain”—i.e. the type of gain one was mostly likely to obtain at a bar.*
*Regardless of the term’s origins, the Alkies’ explanation is the one that most early moderns accepted. Supporting the Alkies’ claims is a well-known example from Anaximander Snope’s An Essay on Witticism: When fellows get themselves a little drunk, Transactions smelling foul as any skunk Obtain with ease their signed and sealed consent [A fact for which they later will repent]— …For, while the lads are drinking to my health, I’m busily depriving them of wealth. The morning after, dupes will blame their stars, And I will count the gain I got from bars.
People often view childhood nostalgically as a happier, less troubled time, but few of them when children enjoyed the carefree, exuberantly happy existence that they associate with childhood. Adults often trivialize children’s problems and think, “I wish had problems as ‘serious’ as those of the children.” What these adults fail to recognize is that a child’s pain when, for example, not picked for a playground sports team is sometimes as acute as that felt by an adult dealing with social or sexual rejection. II.
When adults think that they would like to be children again, they likely mean that they would like to be a child/adult hybrid. They would need their current perspectives to appreciate being children; after all, children usually want to be adults. Adults have the freedoms a child wants but have little time in which to enjoy them, and children have the time an adult would like but not the freedom to use that time as they please. III.
It is easy to remain nostalgic about “Golden Days” of history or one’s life because these times cannot be repeated. In other words, there is no danger of experience clashing with and contradicting one’s idealizations because there is no possibility of putting the imagination to the test of reality.
“Skepticism” [The Parable of the Boulder Explained…as if someone need or wanted an explanation;)]
-Skepticism would benefit from being rebranded “suspension of judgment.” [“Agnosticism” would not be an adequate substitute because the term, now associated almost exclusively with religious beliefs, carries a negative connation—likely resulting from some people’s conflation of it with “atheism”. ] Despite the popular misunderstanding that skeptics insist on contrary positions’ correctness, true skeptics refuse to assert confidently that any position is beyond doubt.
-Considering skeptics’ reservations about proclaiming truths, I find it bizarre that so many people call skeptics “arrogant” for having the audacity to challenge “certainties” that have held for centuries. One might more appropriately attach the label of “arrogance” to the skeptics’ “humble” critics who defer arrogantly to traditional authority. The “endurance=truth” equation falters because beliefs—after becoming part of a culture’s inheritance—were placed in the realm of the untouchable, and anyone who would question them would face powerful opponents. Traditions often last so long because they are defended fiercely and remain unchallenged. If a fort is never attacked, should we praise its endurance? Endurance in the realm of ideas should mean little if a position endures only because it has not been considered honestly by those holding it. A rock might lie on the floor for centuries if no one touches it, and it might eventually come to seem immovable. Much of the rock’s apparent strength derives from its defenders who—despite claiming to believe in its immovability—zealously guard the door to the room in which it rests. Why not let people handle the rock to experience firsthand its immovability?
“On the Relation of Pleasant Past Memories to Present and Future” 1st Version: Clinging to a ‘better’ past state fills the present with unsatisfied desire that we experience as suffering; the present becomes the time in which we mourn the passing of a better time and dream of a future in which that ‘better state’, experienced in the past, will be re-attained. [Ghosts of past joy become present misery that will lead to future misery because one will continually experience the present as the time in which better days have passed and better days are hoped for. The present is transformed into memory-induced suffering. People spend much of the present mourning that which has passed and that which might not come; anxieties ruining the “now” often relate to obsessive desire to recover past joy and fear that such recovery will not be achieved. ]* As long as we experience the present in this way, we condemn ourselves to lives made of present moments in which we mourn the past and anticipate the future.
I think I could compress everything above into the following two sentences:
2nd version: Clinging to a ‘better’ past state fills the present with unsatisfied desire that we experience as suffering; the present becomes the time in which we mourn the passing of a better time and dream of a future in which that ‘better state’, experienced in the past, will be re-attained. As long as we experience the present in this way, we condemn ourselves to lives made of present moments in which we mourn the past and anticipate the future.
I would appreciate constructive feedback regarding the comparative effectiveness of the two versions. Believing that concision is the best policy, I prefer the second version.