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Purpose and Meaning – Don Draper Pt 1

We have been watching Mad Men.  I must admit we have come late to the party.  If it weren’t for Netflix we’d have no idea what it was about.  The last few months have been spent in catching up on the story.

I have been fascinated by this classic Greek Tragedy set in recent times.  The strength of the drama goes well beyond the amazingly accurate depiction of the time and place (The US in the 60’s); it goes to the heart of the attitudes and assumptions that fueled the society at that time; assumptions about age, gender, race, sexual orientation, and social hierarchy/class.

Many of those old ideas have been swept out of the mainstream; have become unacceptable to express (at least overtly).  But one, key idea that is central to the character of the flawed hero, Don Draper, still remains with us.  It is the idea of what constitutes the “good life”.

Don reminds me of a character I wrote about a couple years ago.  Would love to know if you agree.

A Hungry Ghost

Convinced that paradise was for sale
he traded in the minutes of his life for the trappings of success.

He knew the formula; only the poor were sad;
the sad were to be pitied; and pity is the gateway to contempt.

So, each day he donned the heavy, happy mask
and touched the trophies he had struggled to acquire

certain that each acquisition, house, wife, kids, car,
however small, would be the one to transport him to paradise.

Yet each attempt brought failure; it could not numb the pain;
it did not fill the emptiness nor slake his nameless thirst.


4 Responses

  1. Oops…I should have added that your prose is spot on…the words that tweaked my memories. We were ‘upper middle class’ and supposedly happy. Yet, Money only feeds and shelters…happiness is so much more elusive.

  2. Sometimes your posts hit a nerve. I started watching MadMen but gave up on it; Don Draper reminded me too much of my Father and his wife, was too much like my husband’s Mother. It felt like the old family movies that would be pulled put to watch on rainy Saturday nights. Hollow people looking solid in odd fashions recounting miserable moments that passed as happy occasions….

    • I agree; watching Don self-destruct and trample others in the process raises mixed emotions.

      I am fascinated by the power of the writing and the honest evocation of an era that is almost never depicted honestly.

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