For What it’s Worth

the algae is always greener on the other rock

I recently sold a mini refrigerator online for a neighbor (he offered to split the proceeds in exchange). I got almost twice what they were hoping for. My mother immediately said, “You could have gotten more.”

The “ownership effect” is a tendency to over value your own crap (I use the the ugly word purposefully, I do not have nor do I anticipate every having any possessions that are truly irreplaceable, it’s all in the end just – crap. Although I will admit I’ve always loved trash day best so maybe I’m not the best judge).

The Makioka Sisters is a novel written by the Japanese author Jun’ichiro Tanizaki. It chronicles the downward spiral of the Makioka family’s fortunes. Clinging to the traditional Osakan way of life, they suffer from an inability to recognize that their trajectory is, sadly, a constant not a variable. Things fall apart. They are eager to marry off the third sister to maintain respectability and so that the youngest one can go ahead and marry her sweetheart. Every man presented for their consideration is deemed unworthy after a tedious, rigorous inspection and investigation of his prospects and history. The hyper-ritualized process is excruciating.

There is a hilarious scene in the book in which the the family is invited to a Russian family’s home for dinner. There is no trace of condescension or superciliousness between host and guest, but the cultural clash of what, when and how to eat a meal politely is very funny. But I digress, the point is while waiting for the more advantageous man to come by, they themselves become more and more unappealing to the potential suitors. With each prospect that passes them by, they look wistfully at the previous one.

People seem prone to this problem. That as well as a remarkable capacity to simultaneously experience the converse problem of always thinking the next person has it better than us. But we’re just sure everything has its price. We’ve become accustom to placing “value” on everything. An irritating phrase if ever I heard one is,  “For what it’s worth.” Well, if you need to ask…


2 responses to “For What it’s Worth

  1. I just looked it up. It turns out that during the 40’s when the book became popular, it was targetted by the Japanese government for severe censorship on the grounds that it paid too much attention to the lives of women, and made some criticical reference to the Pearl Harbour attack. When you consider that Hideki Tojo was in power at that time, it’s no wonder why the government tried to supress it.

  2. That’s really interesting, I didn’t know there had been attempts to suppress it. Read today it hardy seems subversive. The powers that be are so sensitive geesh.

    Btw, currently reading The Abominable Man….

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