Monday, May 7, 2007

Lucky Day

In my adolescence I wrote a short story in which the lead character achieves his ambition of securing insurance for every aspect of his life. As he settles into his armchair with a sense of ultimate satisfaction, he realizes that he is existentially bored and almost instantly dies of ennui. Perhaps it was a sublime achievement by a 13 year old, or more likely, a typical act of teenage rebellion against the very idea of my father, who happened to work for the Traveller's Insurance Company in Hartford, Ct.

Well, I happened to see a commercial for that very company last night (one long ago consumed by the voracious maw of "Citigroup"), in which scientists are purported to have successfully discovered a way to re-attach "lucky rabbits' feet" to the poor bunnies from which they had been amputated. Numberless rabbits with one gaily colored foot show the success of the new procedure. The point of the commercial is to demonstrate that, with Travellers, "you no longer need luck." Pretty funny - especially considering its deepest Machiavellian presupposition that modernity aims to master "Fortune." We have overcome chance and happenstance, or at the very least - as Machiavelli commends - its "effects," which has the effect of governing the very cause. I wonder if the commercial isn't an actual reflection of the Zeitgeist - a pervasive belief that we have conquered "Fortuna." Am I wrong, then, to sense a pervasive misgiving? Are the occasional benedictions of "good luck" merely a superceded verbal tic, or revelation of a deeper and more widespread sense that we haven't wholly, nor ever will, master the masterless?

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