rich people problems*

* meant with certain degree of irony

Listening to: Black Ghosts ‘New Moon’, ‘Anyway You Want To Give It,’ Apocalyptica ‘I’m Not Jesus’, La Traviata

Went to Art LA, an exhibition of contemporary art from galleries around the world held at the Santa Monica Airport. I was there with two girlfriends, one a promising visual artist in her own right and the other I keep hoping will open a gallery of her own one day. A highlight was discovering a Swiss woman who works with photographs named Marienne Mueller. I want to collect, and although I pick up an inexpensive piece every now and then my focus is still learning, absorbing, developing My Eye. I always loved the Post-Impressionists — Paul Gauguin was the painter who got me interested in art history in the first place, didn’t hurt that W Somerset Maugham based a novel on him called The Moon and Sixpence — but my aspirations have always gathered toward something a little more, shall we say, attainable.

I would like to hunt down a particular photograph by personal heroine Lee Miller, and one day a neon-tubed rose by Tracey Emin, but other than that, who knows what will end up in my house, or when, or if ever.

Speaking of neon tubing, the below got us laughing

and might have been what sparked a conversation we had at the fledgling artist’s house, after she showed us her latest projects. I leaned against the wall and sipped coffee, still cold from the twilight drop in temperature that caught me out in a thin suede jacket. “It took me a long time to realize that people don’t like rich people,” said one of my friends, with the wide-eyed expression of someone who has just discovered that Santa Claus has been a gyp all along.

Since I grew up among the kind of people who don’t like rich people, or at least don’t trust them, I took that as a given. When I started this online journal, that part of my life was the skeleton — dressed in Givenchy — in my closet. Every now and then it would stick out a leg, or an arm, and I would slam the door on it, possibly lopping off a foot in the process.

Having money, however, is not the same as caring or being cared for, which is a point my wise friend M has made to me more than once. Which I suppose is not so unlike a comment I made some blog entries ago, about how the men that society holds up as the most desirable bachelors, the biggest catches for young women everywhere, also tend to be the ones most likely to discard them. Go figure.

We talked a bit about the culture’s prejudice against “rich people”, which of course deteriorated into darkly obnoxious joking around (“We should fight for the rights of rich people!” “Rich people should get the vote — wait a minute — we can buy the vote!”). The whole idea of “reality” surfaced — that the world we live in is not “real”, etc., which I think is absurd. No one’s reality is the same, since reality is tied up with individual perception, and ‘reality’ does NOT get defined by those who have the largest shared experience of it, as minorities have had to fight to remind us. The death of my infant son wasn’t less ‘real’ for the fact that we were living in a luxury hotel at the time.

It continues to amaze me that people will lecture knowingly about how money doesn’t buy happiness and then assume that if rich people aren’t happy, what miserable spoiled ungrateful creatures must they be? But it’s the same problems of love and family, purpose and meaningful work that everybody deals with — I believe this is what’s known as “the human condition” — and money doesn’t buy out of the struggle for answers, even if it does let you lie in the sun…or fly in a private jet to a place where you can lie in the sun.

I also posted the above picture at the scrapbook I started at Tumblr. I’m not quite sure what to do with Tumblr (other than send it some of my Plinky answers), but it’s fun, and I like the idea of collecting bits and pieces and stringing them together.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “rich people problems*

  1. thank you for this post (I realize it’s quite old, but I only discovered your blog over the last couple of months, so I decided to check out some of your older stuff and ha! I just noticed this one was written on my birthday). Anyway, I just wanted to say, that I understand. It’s one of these things that has always boggled my mind. I am not rich, for the record, but cannot understand some of the blind hatred rich people receive. In the same way that I would not want to be judged simply because I come from a working class background, I see no reason to judge people who have money simply because they have money. Having money doesn’t make you immune to pain and suffering. And people love to tell you how money doesn’t buy happiness (as you stated) yet the minute someone with money expresses some sort of discontentment or pain or genuine depression or the like, they are treated as if they don’t have the right to be unhappy b/c they have money and look at how much worse it can be while pointing out all the miseries in the world. Could things be worse? Yes of course. But at the same time, everyone feels and experiences pain and heartache for different reasons. Whatever the reasons, the feeling itself is quite real and does not differ much among people of different backgrounds. Why diminish that? Why the utter lack of sympathy? I don’t get it.

    • oh, because we’re spoiled, we live in a different reality that is not the ‘real’ reality, we insulate ourselves, etc.

      wow, I’d forgotten all about this post!

      i wasn’t born into money — I grew up as a member of the struggling middle class, stable and comfortable but money was always a worry/concern — and I still have trouble perceiving myself as ‘rich’ (and the word makes me cringe) — and what I resented? envied? about the privileged was that they were spoiled, their time was their own (didn’t have to work crappy jobs), they had opportunity and access to culture, travel, beautiful design, etc. all that seemed amazing to me and I couldn’t understand why, if you had all that, you wouldn’t want to actually *do* something remarkable with it, with your life, why you wouldn’t just be THRILLED all the time…. but rich people are just as lost and miserable and misguided as everybody else — the difference is, when I was depressed (after my baby son died, for example) I could go blow thousands of dollars at Neiman Marcus in a hollow desperate attempt to distract myself. which is what I did, instead of having to worry about paying off all the medical bills, etc. i can understand why people would resent that. the freedom from financial worry, the ability to own your time and buy out of all the tedious day-to-day stuff you can hire people to do, is a huge and massive and wonderful thing — what’s amazing is that it only goes so far, and you’re still left with all the difficulty of finding purpose and meaning and high-quality relationships and how you yourself sabotage your own quest for these things. but even those kinds of problems are a privilege. at the same time, i know globe-trotting billionaires who lunch with movie stars and have to go on anti-depressants; i know young heirs and heiresses of great fortunes who tried to kill themselves or got addicted to drugs because of their fucked-up family situations. and these people aren’t spoiled, except in material things — as one young rich woman once put it, “money buys you nothing. money buys shit” — but still, you have to be rich to truly realize that. and rich is fun, or at the very least, a distraction.

      i think what people truly resent is self-absorbed wealth, wealth that is only concerned with its own entertainment, amusement, gratification. and when people cater to you — because they do, because they’re paid to do it — it’s easy to become disconnected from any sense of a bigger picture, responsibility to culture & society, etc. and that’s how wealth is often portrayed in movies & TV, from what I can tell. there’s a lot of hardworking, socially conscious wealth, but the idea of wealth as a vice is much more fascinating, captivating, because i think we’re just wired that way.

  2. well, I’m glad to have reminded you about it! it’s a very interesting topic that I think a lot of people are reluctant to talk about, for a variety of reasons.

    I think what people truly resent is self-absorbed wealth, wealth that is only concerned with its own entertainment, amusement, gratification…and that’s how wealth is often portrayed in movies & TV, from what I can tell.

    I so agree with this. I do think people are resentful of and disdainful toward a certain type, but unfortunately, as with so many other things, people tend to lump other people together and assume everyone in that so-called group is the same. And sadly, far too many people are taking TV and movies at face value / assuming that the prevalence of the type shown on TV and in movies reflects real life.

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