ERIC Number: EJ838852
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Apr-17
The Gift of Financial Insecurity
Wilson, Eric G.
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n32 pB12 Apr 2009
In 1864, when Americans were enduring the daily miseries of the Civil War, Emily Dickinson, perhaps with the nationwide crisis in mind, wrote "A nearness to Tremendousness--/An Agony procures." The author suggests that perhaps Dickinson's poetry may be applied to the current economic downturn, when financial comfort is fleeting and many ponder their misfortunes and losses. Monetary inconveniences that are unexpected but not debilitating discomforts compel a re-examination of the persistent American dream: the idea that a good life is inseparable from financial security. Dickinson's lines, writes Wilson, challenge the American collective fantasy of perpetual material comfort, symbolized by the gated communities, a reverie of homogeneous convenience, and by cosmetic surgery. By undermining the desire for complete security, convictions like Dickinson's can toss people into actual existence, a mixture of joy and sorrow, an embrace of life, not as it should be, but as it is.
Descriptors: Grief, Fantasy, Democratic Values, Poetry, Security (Psychology), Trust (Psychology), Consumer Education, Economic Impact, Financial Needs
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Adult Education
Authoring Institution: N/A