Arlie Hochschild’s “Deep Story”
I’ld like to continue from the last post in examining the structure and meaning of sociologist Arlie Hochschild’s “Great Paradox” and the role and meaning of the “deep story” as described there. If you think about her “deep story”, you may come to realise that it is a secular myth, and describes, in words, this
The “hill” in Hochschild’s story upon which everyone is queued is the “pyramid of sacrifice”, as you may glean from her description of the “deep story”. It is also the Sacred Mountain, or, if you prefer, the Magic Mountain. At the summit of the Magic Mountain lies the Temple of Happiness, which may also be called “Prospect” or “Future” or “Having It Made” of “Easy Street” or “the Penthouse”. In the queue, everyone is trying to claw and scrabble their way up the Magic Mountain to reach the Temple of Happiness, or like Sisyphus rolling his heavy rock up the Magic Mountain only to have it roll back down on them again, as in Camus’ tale The Myth of Sisyphus. It might even be considered Niel Young’s “Sugar Mountain“. If the rock is rolling back down again, though, somebody’s to blame. Somebody’s rigging the game because the field isn’t level.
If you are familiar with Adam Smith’s economic theories, you will recognise the “deep story” also as Smith’s model of free market economics that he described in “the Parable of the Poor Man’s Son” from The Theory of Moral Sentiments.
In those terms, the “deep story” isn’t particularly unique to American politics at all. It’s a myth of modernity which imparts to the capitalist or secular order a kind of profane meaning that is borrowed from sacred literature.