Something for Nothing: Luck in America by Jackson Lears

By Jackson Lears

Jackson Lears has gained accolades for his ability in opting for the wealthy and unforeseen layers of that means underneath the ordinary and mundane in our lives. Now, he demanding situations the normal knowledge that the Protestant ethic of perseverance, undefined, and disciplined fulfillment is what made the US nice. Turning to the deep, seldom said reverence for good fortune that runs via our whole background from colonial occasions to the early twenty-first century, Lears lines how good fortune, likelihood, and playing have formed and, every now and then, outlined our nationwide personality.

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Extra resources for Something for Nothing: Luck in America

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Among the privileged as well as the poor, events can seem opaque, suffering senseless, the universe inscrutable. Life itself still seems dependent on the mysterious power of luck. No wonder amulets and other charms have preserved a fetishlike charge in a variety of settings, including the modern United States. Even in Western cultures, committed to economic and technical rationality, the lucky piece can preserve a transfiguring power. Think of the humble lottery ticket. ”25 Translated from psychoanalytic sociology into a more capacious idiom, the observation reinforces the affinity between gambling and divination.

But none is better positioned than gamblers. “Great gamblers have seen the grim absurdities in capital and its accumulation,” David Thomson re- gam bl i ng f or g rac e 23 ports from Nevada. “They know money is merely a game (like 10,000 on the Dow) and they insist on being playful with it. ” Viewed from Thomson’s angle of vision, Las Vegas might lay claim to a more than metaphorically religious significance. The city is, he writes, “that rare thing: a city built in the spirit that knows its days are numbered.

Everyday life became the inner struggle of the autonomous soul, scrutinizing itself for evidence of election and later—as liberal optimism spread—seeking systematic self-improvement in accordance with providential plan. The idea that God was revealing himself continuously, the basis for the survival of magic in the Church, began to give way to a notion of discontinuous revelation—the belief that God had revealed himself in the Bible, once and for all. If that were true, then divination was pointless at best, demonic at worst.

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