sacrifice 1-2023 How sacrifice lost its significance – Roberto Calasso knew the importance of a doomed prophet – BY COSTICA BRADATAN

…”…Calasso wants to do something about this situation. In his books, he seeks to “unearth”, as he put it, the deeper significance of sacrifice and to show that we have much to gain — spiritually, intellectually, culturally — from a renewed relationship with it. His monumental body of work is meant to teach us a novel way of approaching the world by giving the unknown and the mysterious — all that which transcends us — their due. Such humility should do us some good. He writes:

“In the act of sacrifice, you establish a relation with something that you recognise as enigmatic and powerful… The unknown itself is in our own mind as well — our mind is in its largest part totally unknown to us. Therefore, it is not only a relation to the exterior world, it is a relation to ourselves.”

Key to Calasso’s programme of re-enchanting the world is a better relationship to myth. As he says in another interview, “myths are a special way of knowledge” — one that’s based not in argument, scientific methodology or empirical evidence, but in stories, storytelling and, in general, in a narrative mode of making sense of the world. “Knowledge is made not only with concepts, not only with experiments, it’s made with stories.” In a godless world like ours, only storytelling, as a reflection of myth, can reconnect us not only to the gods, but to our deeper selves…”… 14-1-2023 Sharing economic pain is about equality not envy – Gilian Tett

…”…When asset managers pondered the risk of losing money on their holdings of Japanese government bonds, I was sometimes told that such losses would be tolerable because everyone was likely to suffer future haircuts. There was an ideal of shared sacrifice and, even if this was sometimes breached in practice, it helped to maintain social cohesion. A country such as the US, with its deeply individualistic culture, sits at the other end of the spectrum. Pew Research recently noted that about one in four American parents, and two out of five black parents, struggled to pay for food or housing in the past year. Yet when progressive politicians such as Elizabeth Warren call for redistributive measures such as higher taxes for the rich, this sparks fury from the right. Shared sacrifice is not a dominant ideal. Instead, a mood of bubbling resentment and political antagonism rules. The UK sits in the middle of this pain-sharing spectrum. The concept of shared sacrifice is idealised in popular discourse, folk memories of the second world war “blitz spirit” and so on. But Britain is also a highly unequal society, and the “miserable” outlook for 2023, to use the term cited in an FT poll of economists, is making this worse. Hence the strikes by nurses, train drivers and others who have suffered real-term pay cuts thanks to inflation and government austerity. So while nobody ever likes to talk about pain, let alone spread it around, we need to grasp the nettle in 2023. Otherwise, politics will be increasingly poisonous. Which should scare us all.”