Vincent is back on TV, and so is the full arsenal of signs and sites: his height, his shirt, his interjections. At the end of the day, you tell yourself: you've got to love this man for his consistency. The new series of 8 installments, Controversy, takes issue with some existential concepts, ranging from greed to values, language, religion, identity, and so on. This time Vincent hosts 4 different people for every show, who all represent different layers and social class in Denmark. None are politicians. This is good, as we are tired of schmucks.
The first installment tackles the problem of greed, and the invited debaters range from singer and producer to directors of think tanks, and investment companies. Greed is approached from different angles, and as always, it is clear from he outset that there is a problem with definition. What is greed? No definitions are given other than through association. And the premise for greed is different for each of the speakers. Greed is seen both as a deadly sin but also as ambition, success, and excess. Greed is always bad, one of the speakers says and brings in the example of the film Wall Street. It is also bad when the Danish Royal House accepts money from sponsors even though they have enough money. Another suggests that greed is good. “Just look at Niels Bohr,” he goes, “he was driven by greed, and the desire to know more, and that's why he invented all that he did.”
While opinions were divided, and I went from ha, ha to OMG, I have to say that I liked the best the contribution given by the singer-song writer Remee. He used his own example of what happens when one has too much money and then loses it. Remee suggested that if greed is ever good, then it is when it teaches you to be humble and consequently to be generous. Knowing how to be generous is a gift, he claimed, and I couldn't agree more. At the end of the day, I said to myself that it goes to show that the poets, however good or bad they may be, are still the ones who can be more reflective, analytical, interesting, and genuine in their public statements than the 'professionals'. Remee complied with Democritus's injunction: “one should tell the truth not speak at length” which made me think of the way greed is defined in the Upanishad as a form of appropriating and as a form which estranges us from the thought of infinity. We read these lines in chapter 5 of The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad: “Greed is ingrained in everyone's mind. It is not merely the trader, the miser, or the shopkeeper who is greedy. Greed can take a very subtle form. A desire to keep everything is a form of greed [...] Greed is another expression of our finitude.” Indeed, greed is to be kept in check by charity. One should hope, then, that more will start listening to the bards and perhaps follow their example.