Ephemeral Desire Leads To Suffering

Desire can easily motivate or drive people to act in a specific manner, similarly as social norms or influences. Aside from the character within The Imperfectionist, Schopenhauer is known as a German philosopher who expressed an idea that “human action is directionless and that the source of agony and suffering comes from one’s desire.”

The newspaper industry’s demise resulted from the inability to ameliorate as they are incapable of accepting change and adapt. We come to understand this through the death and symbolic significance of Oliver Otts’ dog, Schopenhauer; symbolizing the dependence of ephemeral desires, which leads to vulnerability and suffering. Tom Rachman begins depicting a story of a man named Llyod Burko, who can be compared to the aging of the newspaper industry. He is similar to the industry in a sense that at one point they were successful at what they did, however, as both aged, they also became less efficient/effective. In his youth, Burko seems to have been quite successful at being a ladies man and truly seemed content with his life. “He hasn’t resisted her friendship with Didier, the man across the hall. She is not finished with that part of her life, with sex, as Lloyd is. She is eighteen years younger, a gap that incited him once but that, now he is seventy, separates them like a lake.”

We can see at the age of seventy, he no longer receives much pleasure from his lover or life itself. We come to an understanding through his interactions with family members, that he no longer is capable of truly being happy with his current life. Juxtapose to the effects of the newspaper industry, they had little complications regarding production of papers during its era. That said, the invention of the internet led the industry to crash once faced with the fact that free information could be accessed through this medium. Blind ambition to achieve a state of permanent existence and purpose resulted with the business to become vulnerable, as the inability to adapt essentially led to its demise. Herman, a man who is seemingly skillful in his work has noted to instead be less ambitious and enthusiastic than what he insists. Subsequent confrontations with a friend, Jimmy, proved to show Herman’s dishonesty towards his profession. His eagerness towards Herman’s work led him to be distraught when provided with a final article. “The email, for no reason Herman can articulate, upsets him. He sees no reason to write back, and perhaps that is why.”

Much like the death of the newspaper and the need for its existence from the industry’s employee’s, Herman had lost all meaning to Jimmy once his lack of energy and lust for the career was discovered. Consumed by a longing to publish a piece of work produced by Herman, ultimately resulted in the termination of a life-long friendship. If Jimmy is synonymous to the consumers of news, we can begin to develop an understanding of how the industry failed to keep up with standards. Jimmy no longer favours Hermans’ work, which is synonymous to the production of newspapers, thus he rids the idea of ever using a resource. The invention of new technologies i.e the internet, television, radio, proves to make it challenging for newspaper industries to compete. Such a dilemma will consequently result with these advanced mediums of communication to eclipse said industry. The inability to move on from outdated times has shown to be disadvantageous than to that of a more current era. Ornella is a woman who has confined herself to “experiencing” thirteen years of the past, daily; her enslavement to the past starting from 1994, has lead her to be ignorant of the current time period. She insists to only read the paper in order from 1994, which can be interpreted as the inability to move on much like the newspaper industry is unable to move on to digitally. Her incessant behaviour ceased once she was confronted with a past traumatic experience regarding her late husband within a newspaper, which she consistently attempted to hide from. Once such a date arrived, she was forced to experience it again; allowing her to confront the past and move on with the present. Unlike Ornella, the newspaper industry is unwilling to move on from the past and adapt to the current technologies that is more efficient at communicating information. Tom Rachman later introduces Oliver Ott, the man who took over the company after Boyd left it. During the speech regarding the demise and the termination of the company, numerous ex-employees displayed emotions of anger and frustration; many fleeing from the scene.

Following the speech, we find out that Schopenhauer was strangled to death and it iis here we can understand the meaning behind his name. As the German Philosopher exclaimed, “suffering comes from one’s desire; the newspaper industry is what the employees desired, as it provided them a sense of security. While it was short-lived, the loss of something they were devoted to, resulted in distraught emotions and influenced them to take action (murdering Schopenhauer). Killing Schopenhauer, was equivalent to taking away a part of life that once provided a source of happiness and comfort. Rachman developed this thought through the numerous narratives of multiple lives that could correlate with the obstacles the industry must face. He fluently relates the daily misfortunes of life occurrences to the downfall of the newspaper industry as seen through the story of Llyod, Herman, Ornell, and numerous other characters. Ultimately insisting that short-lived desires can produce negative repercussions when we no longer are capable of experiencing them.

11 February 2020
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