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But consider what it must be like to be her. Hannah’s concern for other people doesn’t derive from particular appreciation or respect for them; her concern is indiscriminate and applies to strangers as well as friends. She also does not endorse a guiding principle based on compassion and kindness. Rather, Hannah is compelled by hyperarousal—her drive is unstoppable . Her experience is the opposite of selfishness but just as extreme. A selfish person might go through life indifferent to the pleasure and pain of others—ninety-nine for him and one for everyone else—while in Hannah’s case, the feelings of others are always in her head—ninety-nine for everyone else and one for her.
I elaborate on these arcane matters because it is fundamental to understand that the root cause for the sputtering of economic growth is that the primary resource needed for creating it (oil) has exceeded our ability to pay for it — and despite all the wishful thinking, there is no alt-energy rescue remedy to replace it. Hence, we’ve been borrowing from the future (piling up debt) to keep the vast complex systems of advanced civilization running. And now we’ve run out of our ability to pile on anymore debt. The result will be a collapse of our complex systems and a re-set of human activity to a lower and simpler level. How disorderly the process gets remains to be seen, and where it stops is as yet unknown. But it will have everything to do with how human life organizes itself on-the-ground, and therefore with the future of our cities.
Scarpia's apartment in the Palazzo Farnese , that evening
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