My Mazamet

Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho

The Secret of Life: We all play the status game, but who are the real winners?

“Life is a game. To understand this is to understand why the human world can be so maddening, angry and irrational. The behaviour of racists, transphobes, conspiracy theorists, cult members, religious fundamentalists and online mobbers becomes much more explicable when you realise that humans are programmed by evolution to be obsessively interested in status, and that this obsession is powerful enough to overcome the will to achieve equality, truth or the sense of generous compassion for our rivals.”

Full text here.

In case any of you missed this article in The Guardian, it’s really excellent and announces the launch of The Status Game, by Will Storr, published by William Collins and out now.

In many ways this is the book I’ve been waiting for because someone has finally put words and method the concept that is essentially what makes the wheels of humanity turn. Even before we understand this rationally, we are already being trained by our families and schoolmates in the competition game. Often a completely artificial competition game where who wins isn’t the fastest or smartest, but the one who cried cooties first. The one who can manipulate the tribe into believing they are valuable, even if true value is determined by something else entirely. Or is it?

In other news, to celebrate our 20th year together, I got a ring. 2 carats, emerald cut, something I can leave on all the time – in part for the purposes of status games (did I say that out loud?). I love it. It’s now one of my absolutely favourite things.

Work has been absolutely fabulous. Not unlike the status game, since I began dealing each sale has led to something a little bit better — and so now we’ve reached a point where practically everything I decide to take on is a small (or large) wonder. The latest are these Louis XV fauteuils covered in Aubusson tapestry which are massive and simply gorgeous.

And in other beautiful things we sold a little masterpiece of a sculpture a few weeks ago. An Our Lady of Peace with a really magnificent face. So life-like one can imagine her just suddenly walking away.

48 comments on “The Secret of Life: We all play the status game, but who are the real winners?

  1. Steve Ruis
    October 14, 2021

    Twenty years! Congratulations! And your home has never looked better. In the status game you are doing a hell of a lot better than am I!

    Cheers, my friend. Oh, and keep up the pace, they are gaining on you. :o)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Bizzy
    October 14, 2021

    Bravo. I have never in my life done anything for twenty years straight. And though none of the Louis are my thing, those are stunning chairs.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      October 14, 2021

      Armchairs like that need a massive amount of space. They’re called Fauteuil(s) a la Reine and we’re placed against the wall in pairs, more like decorative furniture than actually for use. Hopefully their next home will be a chateau or loft or something like that 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Helen Devries
    October 14, 2021

    Congratulations on your twenty year anniversary – and what a way to mark it! What a delight too, to have a succession of lovely things to work on.
    Were those chairs designed to cope with full skirts?

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      October 14, 2021

      Thank you 🙂 And yes, your theory makes perfect sense. The earlier versions coincide with the period of full skirts. Here’s a fascinating early version: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/207406

      Liked by 2 people

      • Helen Devries
        October 14, 2021

        Thank you…interesting to read the theory that the lambrequin style of the arms echoed that of the silver furniture melted down for Louis XIV’s wars. Oddly enough I have just been re reading the memoirs of the Duc de St. Simon dealing with that period. Always a joy to read of little gems such as a man claiming to be his son being rumbled by being observed to eat his olives with a fork.

        Liked by 2 people

      • The Pink Agendist
        October 14, 2021

        Fascinating! Was it a Perkin Warbeck sort of situation?

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Helen Devries
    October 14, 2021

    The imposter was with the army in Spain, as I recall, and inflaming an already complicated political situation for the poor duke whose real son was with the army on the Moselle, I think. I love those memoirs….characters like Lauzun, hiding under Mme de Montespan’s bed whie she was ‘entertaining’ Louis XIV….the real fear of assassination by the Jesuits felt by the royal family….the machinations to prevent the king declaring Mme. de Maintenon queen…the reputed coloured daughter of the queen kept in a convent….

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Kris
    October 14, 2021

    I picture you sitting in the oversized chair, a large fire burning behind you and your devoted subjects bowing to kiss the 2ct ring. Godfather status 😎

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Ben Berwick
    October 14, 2021

    Congratulations on your anniversary! Twenty years… what’s the secret?!

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      October 14, 2021

      Thank you! We’ve been inseparable from the time we met. I think more than anything we challenge each other intellectually which means it’s always interesting being together.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. acflory
    October 15, 2021

    Bravo, Pinky and Mike. 🙂 You two prove that long, solid relationships are possible.Hugs to you both.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      October 15, 2021

      Thank you, Andrea! Are you enjoying your lockdown? 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • acflory
        October 16, 2021

        Oh the sarcasm…. :/

        I was okay for the first year. This second year has been hard, and the last few months have been miserable. My state is recording 2000+ cases a day at the moment. Very, very not happy. 😦

        Liked by 2 people

      • The Pink Agendist
        October 16, 2021

        You don’t like dystopian? But why? 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • acflory
        October 17, 2021

        I don’t mind reading about it…as fiction. :p

        Liked by 1 person

  8. inspiredbythedivine1
    October 15, 2021

    Bravo on the 20 years! Great to hear stories of folks who have relationships that last and continue to be positive, wonderful things. After 20 years of living with myself, I tried to divorce myself, I’m SUCH a whiny, demanding person, but couldn’t find a lawyer who’d help me do it! BASTARDS! So, I’m stuck with myself.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. keithnoback
    October 15, 2021

    That is a very nice ring!
    I have always been a little squeamish about anniversaries. On a certain level, it seems like we are patting ourselves on the back for having endured another year without an implosion.
    Perhaps another way of keeping score in the status game.
    I have tried to explain this to my wife, but she just stares at me and asks, “where is my present?”.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      October 15, 2021

      Thanks!
      I’m sure you’re right, it’s also part of the score being calculated by our subconscious algorithm 🙂 We never do anniversary gifts normally – and even this one was on the basis of him saying, “why don’t you get yourself something you like.”

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Anonymole
    October 16, 2021

    Is She supposed to be carrying a pie, or a big bowl of spaghetti? “Hmm, did I remember to put the good olive oil on this? Maybe that’s too much garlic.”

    I think I’ve been playing the anti-status game for decades. If I could skate through life being ignored the entire time, I’d call that success.

    Nice rock.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      October 16, 2021

      Isn’t writing your status game of record?

      Like

      • Anonymole
        October 16, 2021

        Thinking…
        Alone in a cave, I believe I would still write. My sense of excellence would no doubt sink to incoherent depths, but I’d still strive to produce quality narrative. In that I suspect I seek no elevated status.
        Beyond that, for instance, here, I’d like to say that acknowledgment and confirmation that my writerly offerings provide entertainment is my goal. Is that status seeking? Elevation above other writers? Or is being here status seeking of a sort, the winner gaining status, likes and followers?
        I don’t compete in anything really. I own nothing of value, have no nice clothes, don’t even have a car of my own anymore. I’m like a frickin’ hermit — except for these digital windows, no one would even know I exist.

        Liked by 2 people

      • The Pink Agendist
        October 16, 2021

        That’s very interesting because in many ways I live “alone in a cave”, well, with Mike and the dogs, but very much in our own world. My pursuit on the surface seems to be an aesthetic quest. But I think there are animal impulses just underneath. Quests are by their nature rarely about staying where we are to begin with.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Anonymole
        October 16, 2021

        None of my comments were meant to insinuate that the premise of status being a leading factor in humanity’s development was not true.
        It undoubtedly is. Status = power. (maybe it’s best I go read that article now…)

        Liked by 2 people

      • The Pink Agendist
        October 16, 2021

        I know. It’s one of those things that I think we do automatically without thinking about what we’re doing. I think it’s interesting to think about why we choose the things we choose?

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Anonymole
    October 16, 2021

    A competent fisherman comes a cross a fumbling neophyte. “If you’re amenable, I’d like to show you a few things that will help you,” says the fisherman.
    Does he do this for status? For the praise from the student? Is there no generosity without the need for acknowledgement?
    Pointing out the myriad ways humans attempt to one-up each other, as the author does, is helpful. It’s not the whole story though.
    I look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and see that Esteem is fourth up from the bottom. Before it come 1) physiological, 2) safety, and 3) belonging. It would seem, reviewing such foundational needs, there is much to human behavior that is not driven by status.
    That said, in today’s impossible-to-escape-social-shackles, we are doomed to compete regardless of our personal desires to reject such constraints.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      October 16, 2021

      I love how you come at topics like this from interesting angles.
      If we take your three examples, physiological, safety and belonging, how are those allocated? Don’t the parents or community have to create some sort of system to decide where the resources go first?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Anonymole
        October 16, 2021

        I see where you’re heading. And yes, Maslow’s pyramid is focused at the individual, not at the community’s holistic needs. There, I would admit that the blending of needs, the negotiation of resource allotment would be often, if not governed by status, at least greatly influenced by it.
        We don’t live in isolation. True. But not everything must be tainted by our need for status (power) and influence, must it?

        Liked by 2 people

      • The Pink Agendist
        October 17, 2021

        Now would you also like me to destroy your perception of love?

        Like

      • Anonymole
        October 17, 2021

        Love? What do I know of love other than it fades to indifference or twists to revulsion. Or, in the rare instance, lasts until the other dies, breaking the former’s heart. So Love? What need do I have of love?

        Liked by 2 people

      • The Pink Agendist
        October 17, 2021

        I thought you were married!

        Like

      • Anonymole
        October 17, 2021

        Yeah. So? Does obligation equal love? A promise made…
        I loved in my twenties. That was enough. Now I only wait for the end.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        October 17, 2021

        These days? Isn’t the whole obligation thing something of the past? I can’t imagine sharing space with someone I didn’t love.

        Like

      • Anonymole
        October 17, 2021

        When one is a 99% Nihilist, and you’re 99% sure life has no meaning, existence is futile, and the Universe is absurd — happiness is pretty much a delusion we sell ourselves. In the end, nothing matters.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        October 17, 2021

        But if that were true, why would you write? Does the moment not matter? If nothing matters, surely pleasure and satisfaction matter.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Anonymole
        October 17, 2021

        I’ll admit I don’t and can’t exist at that constant 99%. We are all different people at different times and under different conditions. While I’m coding, there are times when I solve a tough logical problem and get that squirt of dopamine. Or when watching a touching movie, a tear may escape my indifferent grasp.
        And toward Epicurean beliefs I profess some inclination, but not as a formal pursuit.
        Apathy, when questioned, is where my predilections lie. Of course, as I mentioned, we can all don various hats and behaviors. I hate injustice, and will argue against it. But do I really care in the end? No. How can I when nothing really matters?

        Liked by 2 people

      • Anonymole
        October 17, 2021

        The 1%? That’s me committing to working 10 hours a day at a job I hate in a sector I despise so that my dependents can have the economic stability to exist without strife and eventually decide for themselves whether life is worth living.

        Liked by 2 people

  12. Bela Johnson
    October 31, 2021

    Congrats on your 20th! Love makes it all worthwhile 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  13. SoundEagle 🦅ೋღஜஇ
    November 10, 2021

    Dear Mr Merveilleux,

    Hello! A belated congratulations to you on your reaching the 20th anniversary of your partnership with your other significant half.

    Such a milestone is not to be trivialized, unheeded or forgotten. I would hereby like to celebrate your two-decade milestone and resonate with your friendly spirit with the following statement by Robert Louis Stevenson:

    We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.

    Wishing you a productive week doing or enjoying whatever that satisfies you the most!

    Happy November to you and your partner!

    Yours sincerely,
    SoundEagle

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      November 10, 2021

      Thank you very very much 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • SoundEagle 🦅ೋღஜஇ
        November 10, 2021

        Dear Mr Merveilleux,

        You are very welcome! I would like to wish you all the best regarding the third decade of your partnership with your other significant half as follows:


        Be brave
        Be bold
        Be beautiful
        Be you

        Yours sincerely,
        SoundEagle

        Like

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This entry was posted on October 14, 2021 by in art, thinking aloud and tagged , , , , , , .
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