Sunday, 1 February 2009

Existential Crises Are Just Fine. Just Don't Tell Me What To Think!

It often seems that many of us are gripped by an existential crisis. Why do we need a reason to exist? When it is seen that there is no one to own such a crisis, that nothing happens to no one, that the appearance is exactly as it should be, existential crisis is entirely moot.

Just read the paper. Every inch screams from between the newsprint how we should feel, what we should think, what it is appropriate for us to be outraged by. Lords trying to change the laws on behalf of their employers? Outrageous! No matter that this is how it's been done forever. No, no, it's terrible, we have rules to follow, lest anarchy encroach. Lest inequality prevail. And what else? The fashion industry is about to embark on a season of giant earrings? Earrings that deform the earlobe? Untenable. An enlarged pierced ear hole is anathema to the sweet, gentle, caring way we must all be looking after ourselves. Health is the most important thing. Be outraged by this willful deformity of earlobes! It is wrong. And what's this? Love isn't being taught in the home anymore! Today's children don't trust, according to a poll (a very important and accurate poll) as much as they used to. They are adversely affected by society's rampant individualism. The cure is to emphasize love and respect in education, policy and personal life. Love is the answer. Be incensed by this stark portrait of social breakdown! We are all bad, life is bad, society is bad, we're not doing well enough, we're not doing enough, we're not enough! It is not enough!

It is never enough. We will never get there. There is nowhere to go, and no one going there. Look elsewhere and counter-wisdom is written, pointing out that humanity's no. 1 goal is to produce more humanity. In the story that unfolds it remains the ultimate goal, perpetuation, but perhaps not by having as many children as possible, but rather by the better nurturing of fewer. There are apparent small solutions to perceived problems along the way. There is seeming anarchy, in pockets, and nice people and naughty people. There are those who deform themselves somewhat to achieve a certain aesthetic, and there are those who wash, dress and run out the door, never looking in a mirror. Some people bemoan the state of society, others point out its advances. "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

This liberation, it seems, is just the freedom from taking the story too seriously.

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