Friday, May 07, 2010

Notes on Meaning (last part)

From another feel-good article:
Today, we have so many things that make our life easier and less stressful. Yet many seem so stressed out. You see many children who are easily bored and restless. Often, people have to have something going on, something to do or somewhere to go. They always have to have music playing, the TV on or something to distract them.

Maybe this is so because often people are feeling empty, lost, and without purpose. They feel a need to fill up their lives with noise so they don't have to face the fact they have no purpose in life.

If you are feeling that way, I challenge you to create you own purpose if that is how you feel. Identify what you truly value. Be true to yourself, and don't get caught up in the idea that it has to serve others. Once you find a purpose that resonates with you, it will ultimately benefit the world as well, but you have to start with what is important to you.

It may be through a cause that is close to your heart for which you take a stand. You might want to find an opportunity to volunteer in your community, such as working with the homeless, driving people to appointments, or sharing your expertise with others through training or public speaking.

...
Doesn't work.

The problem of meaning in the modern world is essentially this:

Autonomy is the freedom to create one's own meaning. Nobody pushes you towards a larger meaning.

It's all about control of one's life. You will not walk to work, but will walk on the treadmill. You will be irritated at a beggar ringing your doorbell, but will organize a fundraiser. You will use air-conditioning and hot water (sometimes on the same day) but will debate global warming.

This is not hypocrisy; this is controlled, choice-driven (as opposed to circumstance driven) goodness. Forced goodness is called morality, oppression, authority, and is out. Voluntary goodness is in.

But this autonomy also means that the push behind this meaning is your own circumstances, mood and motivation.

Since your meaning is your own, you are alone, and therefore alienated. Since nobody is essentially dependent on your goodness, and you can choose to not do it, it is a surrogate activity, a pastime as it were.

Pastimes cannot fulfill a man. Artists live empty, agonized lives.

Freedom/Autonomy and Meaning/Fulfillment are in opposition to each other.

Similarly, Intelligence/Cognition/Modernity/Knowledge (the progressive virtues) and Feeling/Intuition/Faith/Belief (the regressive virtues) are in opposition to each other.

Meaninglessness is the future of man. The vast universe, dark, empty, infinite, beckons.

(respectful nod once again to Peter Wessel Zapffe's strange essay: The Last Messiah)

7 comments:

ElDuderno said...

Yes meaninglessness is quite right, but look at the blog "who is the absurd man" whom you list as one of the blogs you follow. These fellows seem to revel in the lack of meaning and are very happy as a consequence, claiming that absurdism is the greatest antidepressant, while you despair over it.

What is the reason for this state of affairs? Mind is the one that projects meaning/values into the meaningless/valueless churn of the universe. The lack of an objective/ultimate goal is not an objective reason for despair, it is upto the mind to interpret it however it chooses.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@elduderno

These fellows seem to revel in the lack of meaning and are very happy as a consequence

Give them some time. :-) Freedom, like a vacation, is exhilarating in the beginning.

ElDuderno said...

Harman: Give them some time.

#They will say the same about you.

:-) Freedom, like a vacation, is exhilarating in the beginning.

#At least it is better than toiling in a meaningless job for the man.

Modern Man said...

ElDuderno,

The blog, "Who is the Absurd Man," is an interesting blog, and I enjoy the writers' dedicated musings. That said, the blog is designed as a self-help tool, and, consequently, the writers don't examine the heavy implications of the various forms of nihilism that they are enthusiastically encouraging. It's an apology for modern man's situation, saying, "see, meaninglessness isn't so bad!" But even Camus saw the folly of this stance (examine his decision to reject pacifism after the atrocities of WWII, and his incessant condemnation of capital punishment). Man's consciousness of his meaninglessness is the tragedy, and a legitimate reason to despair.

-MM

Pankaj said...

One should bang ones head on the wall, because it feels so good when you stop

gamzoo said...

ElDuderno,

At least it is better than toiling in a meaningless job for the man.

if everything is equally meaningless then you can't not toil in meaningless labor. The choice then isn't between a meaningful job and meaningless job. Rather the choice is between being engaged with your labor or not. This is the absurd point of view.

Darshan Chande said...

ElDuderno, about Who is the absurd man blog...

These fellows seem to revel in the lack of meaning and are very happy as a consequence

Give them some time. :-) Freedom, like a vacation, is exhilarating in the beginning.

Check out the blog:
http://whoistheabsurdman.blogspot.in/2012/03/so-long-and-thanks-for-all-fish.html