There remain few expressions better able to capture the futility of a task than one which compares our efforts to ‘rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.’ However, once we get to know them, we might come to think that they are what we should have been focused on all along.
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“There remain few expressions better able to capture the futility of a task than one which compares our efforts to ‘rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.’ The hull has been breached, the ship is sinking; to concern ourselves, at such a moment, with the position of the loungers would be the ultimate folly, the deepest possible failure to recognise the true hopelessness of the situation.
The point seems grimly apt because we are, many of us, a little like the passengers on a stricken liner. Our larger hopes in life have been fatally holed: we see now that our career won’t ever particularly flourish; our relationships will always be compromised; we’ve passed our peak in terms of looks; our bodies are going to fall prey to ever more humiliating illnesses; society isn’t going to cure itself; significant political progress looks deeply improbable. Our ship is going down. It can feel as if trying to improve our condition, let alone find pleasure and distraction would be an insult to the facts. Our instinct is to be as funereal and gloomy as our ultimate end…”
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