Tag Archives: philosophy

(Post)modern obsessions

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Have you noticed how the following themes keep popping up, almost obsessively, in contemporary discourse – in the media, in the public sphere and increasingly in ourselves?

This obsession with sex – and complete devaluation of love and tenderness and commitment.

This obsession with doing – and complete devaluation of being.

This obsession with the intensity of fragmented experience – and complete devaluation of profoundness and resilience and eternity.

This obsession with work and maximization – and complete devaluation of contemplation and spirituality. Of the time it takes to realize that you have a soul, that you are a human being capable of transcendence, not a machine plugged in to churn out as many objects as possible per unit of time.

We treat ourselves and each other as equipment, as products. We apply to beings the logic of machines. We have transferred the maximum efficiency mantra of the technological sector to human life. We have internalized the algebraic depersonalisation, the callous disregard, the flattening subjugation of being to efficiency and utility present in our discourses. We find it OK to behave and to be treated increasingly like predictable robots or like working animals. Like mammals, all dapper and happy to be allowed to act out their basest instincts.

This obsession with Darwinism, with us as little more than physical organisms in biological evolution, this bench-marking against apes, not against angels or saints? This devaluation of angels and saints as melodrama and cheap esoteric – or, even, as oppression. This talk of our “natural instincts”. Nature, our nature, as a new goddess. But should we always make way for our natural instincts? Will that improve us? What will build more character and more goodness and a deeper path to the absolute we secretly yearn for?

(Is something good or legitimate simply because we were born with it? Because we acquired it? Because it is fun? Because it brings pleasure or monetary value? Are we not supposed to transcend ourselves?)

This frenzy of devaluation… No religion, but brand religion. The branding iron.

What is slavery for theoretically free individuals? According to Simone Weil, the disconnect between one’s efforts and their life’s work. (We work, but we no longer have a life’s work, an opus, an oeuvre. We expect our work to be the foundation of our identity, but in fact, so many of us no longer feel like creators. We no longer develop our being in the process of our work. Work all too often feels like odd life-draining tasks under excruciating time pressure, away from the ones we love. It no longer feels like purpose. Just endless busyness. Our work has control over us, but we no longer have much control over it.)

What else is slavery? In Gravity and Grace, S. Weil goes on to say it is the coercion to accept that “reading” of yourself, that interpretation of yourself, which others stamp on you. Having no choice or having only wrong choices. Allowing yourself to be devoured by exhausting activities, and making all this daily effort simply to stay in your current condition – no horizon, no finality, mere survival. Day to day to day. The arbitrariness of how you are treated. The dependency. The addiction.

Any illusion begins to feel real when enough people accept it and internalize it as “the thing to do”. Repeated, it reproduces, it propagates.

This destruction of the human soul…

We no longer recognize the sacredness of our own and each other’s being.

Will the human spirit ever rise against this flattening iron?…

 

 

Quote of the day

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The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less.

  • Vaclav Havel – Letters to Olga (1988), p. 237

Perspectives for personal development

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When the road to change seems full of roadblocks, adopt a different perspective.

Just like a photographer circling his subject to find her best side, just like a writer looking for the revelation of something strikingly original and true, to reach awareness, look at things from a different angle. Ask the right questions.

Sometimes we are so wrapped up in what we want to become, that we forget who we want to become or even who we are and why we are here.

I think the who is much more important than the what. Who is the subject, what is the object. Do we really want to be objects? (And yes, you see, grammar does help later in life…)

What you are is a label glued on your exterior, a tag on a product up for sale, a business card, a title that is yours today and might become somebody else’s tomorrow. Who you are is personal and true, it is in-depth and unique. It is that distinctive, non-interchangeable combination of traits and values which gives you authenticity, direction, a purpose on the planet, and which nobody can take away from you.

Too obsessed with the what you no longer have time for the who-s around you. Drowning in your self-centered or job-related cognitive processes, you no longer have resources for empathy and giving.

To find meaning, sometimes all it takes is to change the angle and ask the right questions.

PS: A couple of days after publishing this post, I came across this article in the New York Times. Really worth the read!!!
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/20/opinion/sunday/arthur-c-brooks-love-people-not-pleasure.html

Paradox of our existence

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That you cannot keep any of it. That is the most sadistic part of life, its sardonic grin. That you cannot keep that which you hang on to the most, that which you love the most, that which is most said to be yours. You cannot keep that which you are held most responsible for, and you cannot keep it no matter how hard you try. That you are just a vessel for a fluid, but forced to act your part in life’s charade like the most individualized and concrete of selves, to love and to hurt and to save other illusory selves who are nothing but vessels for the same fluid, and whose only significantly different feature is their outer shell.

And then comes Jesus, and this man is suddenly no shell, but the concentrated, godly, glittering fluid itself. And even then the world spins round the same as before, and you cannot hold on to anything, not even a corpse, longer than three days, and yet you are made responsible to love and to save.

That you aren’t even aware what goes on behind you or inside you; that you were born with a legacy you don’t know and don’t get to choose; that you can’t even explain why people do things to you and you to them, and that you have to feel your way in the dark and stand judgement for even the slightest misstep. That this obsession with judgement leads to an obsession with control – control yourself, control your environment, control other people – and all this horrible stress of not actually being able to control anything builds up into an explosive heap of even more bad deeds…

That you don’t really own yourself. That as much as you would like to, it would be wrong. You cannot own that which you did not create.  It was given to you. You did not exist and then, suddenly, one day you were. You just were. Your life isn’t essentially yours. Your life does belong to other people, annoying as that may seem, your life is interconnected and interwoven with a million fine threads with the life of who knows what stranger in the street. Your life is the fluid you received from above, and which is essentially just a lease on life, never full ownership, and most of the time you lose the weightless glitter along the way.

That you are a short-lived butterfly, a leaden butterfly at times, but a butterfly nevertheless, and one which used to be full of color and full of beauty and waft in the sun. That all these “horrible” people around you used to be pure and smell like milk. That we make each other horrible.

That your spirit often feels heavier than your body.