The Sanity Of Mad Men

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 29 2012 @ 12:04pm

Empty boat nancy poucher

Mockingbird features Slate's interview with Vincent Kartheiser, and sees in his Mad Men character, Peter Campbell proof positive that "human beings need love, not love-based-on-achievement." Kartheiser sees his own character as a kind of proof:

"With success comes a level of sadness. You think, 'I’ll reach this goal, and then I’ll feel a sense of completeness, of wholeness. I’ll feel that I have accomplished something. I will see myself as a worthy man.' And it doesn’t really exist."

One of my toilet books is Thomas Merton's translations of the hilarious and deep Taoist master, Chuang Tzu. If Christianity is the religion of 'unachievement," in Oakeshott's terms, then it had a predecessor:

Who can free himself from achievement
And from fame, descend and be lost
Amid the masses of men?
He will flow like Tao, unseen.
He will go about like Life itself
With no name and no home.
Simple is he, without distinction.
To all appearances he is a fool.
His steps leave no trace. He has no power.
He achieves nothing, has no reputation.
Since he judges no one
No one judges him.
Such is the perfect man:
His boat is empty.

(Art by Nancy Poucher).