lucky you! Indulge all your worst tendencies and most sadistic desires

— why is it people like bad music?

— it’s not that they like bad music, it’s that they prefer it.

— Shannon Cartier Lucy, If My Hand Offends, 2019

… almost all of those who are born unlucky have been brutally prevented from developing more than a fraction of their own abilities, and this is perhaps the most shocking fact about our human world.

Undoubtedly less shocking, but possibly more weird, is the incredible fact that in the contemporary world many even of those who are born lucky are voluntarily forgoing the opportunity to develop their inner resources. Gorgeous and delicious fruits, grown by seductive geniuses, sit on the plates of these lucky people but remain uneaten. A process of decay has infected the lucky in various parts of the world, and very notably in the United States, leading many even of the luckiest to turn vehemently against complex thought in general and the cultivation of the intellect in particular–and even to turn against complex pleasures. And in certain circles, crude thought and ignorance are openly respected and praised, while the concept of basing one’s conclusions on evidence (or on replicable experiments)–and even the principle of rationality itself–are ignored or even mocked. Traveling in precisely the opposite of the direction that would help the world to dig itself out of its crisis, many lucky people have come to believe that our spiritual and mental lives should have only two elements: first, everyone should learn whatever technical skills are necessary in order for them to be able to work and make money (skills learned by the unlucky would bring them a small amount of money, skills learned by the lucky would bring them a large amount of money) and second, for relaxation, people should consume very simple pleasures such as very simple stories, very simple music, very simple eroticism, and various sadistic forms of amusement such as television programs that show people insulting or tormenting each other or killing each other. Omitted from this short list of recommended intellectual activities–and from the type of education that can be derived from it–is anything conducive to the development of the wide-awake, thoughtful, curious, sharply logical, and deeply emotional human beings who could save the world, on the one hand, or, if a better world were to be created, could actually enjoy it.

— Wallace Shawn, Night Thoughts, 2017, pp. 69-71.