Tuesday, February 17, 2015

On Desire

While we're building our better world, we're keen on thinking about what it will look like. Once we know what we want, we have to build it. So I've been thinking about desires. I even read up on the subject (I recommend the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy for some cozy reading on a snowy night).  The functional question we want to address is: if we really want something, what is stopping us from achieving that goal? Let's start with the first half of that question: "if we really want something" and follow up on the second half in a later post.

There is a quote from the Simpsons where Bart says to Lisa, "I can't promise I'll try, but I'll try to try."  In library life, we try to try quite a bit. When we try to try and we end up not trying it's a failure that seems acceptable. I mean we didn't try, but we did TRY to try.  Second order desires, such as my desire to care more about improving the instruction program, or wanting to want to read more library blogs and journals, are a kind of instrumental desire, a means to an end. I want to want to read more library journals because I want you to think I'm smart and know what is going on. Wanting something for its own sake or at least partially for its own sake is intrinsic desire.  As my father has told me, "if you really wanted to, you'd already be doing it."

Two questions arise about our work building the unified library scene. First: are our desires intrinsic or instrumental? Which is which? I want a library community focused on the library users because I believe this is good. I want a library community where all kinds of work are valued by all workers because I want to be valued, because I think this is good, because I believe that will result in the most productive environment. We could go on. In fact, I think it would be a fun twitter experiment to look at our desires about our field and take them one or two steps deeper.

The second question is how directly do our desires drive our actions? Is our desire to build the unified library scene always occurrent, always at hand and having some influence on our actions whether we are aware of it or not? Or is our desire to build the unified library scene a standing desire, more like our desire to pay off our student loans, there but not really having a huge impact on our daily life?

What can we gain by reflecting on our desires in life or in our professional environment?  As I mentioned in my post on personal vision, when we are clear on our opinions and our reasons, we are better able to argue for our side. When we examine our beliefs and our desires, we can add another layer to our understanding. We can bring more people along. We can build this.

Let us know what your desires are for the profession, and what you think drives those desires. In fact, answer all of these questions! I'm dying to know the answers!

Hey keep rockin'

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