Friday, January 01, 2016

Seeking the Unknown, part 1

Could one say that there are essentially two kinds of people in the world: those who seek the known, and those who seek the unknown?  Ambition is another name for seeking the known.

Those who seek the known are the worldly-wise.  They understand what it takes to succeed in the world.  They not only understand, but accept, the rules of the game.  Their aim is to play the game well, so as to emerge a winner.  These are the go-getters.  These people know what they want, and how to get it.  They may succeed or fail, but they know what to aim for.  They respect the respectable, they bow down to authority, and they are never lost or at a loss.  They are seeking to be young forever, to be pretty forever, to be wealthy forever, to have power forever.  They see eternity as an endless series of satisfactions.

The seekers of the known are drawn to novelty, but within the constant sphere of their knowledge.  A new smartphone, a new cocktail, a new vacation at a famous beach, a fast sports car, a grand mansion, the latest bestselling book, ...  They are drawn to fine things and light and luxury, and they do not wish to think of darkness, pain and longing.  They might often say: "This is life.  This is it."

Those who seek the unknown are the misfits, the maladjusted, the maniacs.  These people seek too, but they do not know what to seek, or how to find it.  They are not satisfied with what satisfies the go-getters.  They are not entertained by what others say should entertain them.  They see the hollowness in the respectable, they rebel against authority, and they wonder and wander.  Though they might momentarily enjoy the sensation of a hot bath or a perfumed beautiful body, a constant drone of disdain and mockery of all that is achievable feeds their disenchantment.  They are seeking something which should not be attainable by mere effort or by mere mortals.  They are seeking an experience such that they would willingly and happily have no more to ask of life. 

They are seeking absolute perfection.  They seek transcendence beyond the mundane, and to these people, every thing is mundane.

The seekers of the unknown are drawn to uncharted territory, to off-beat art, to desolation and wilderness, to deeper and wider exploration.  But wherever they go, they eventually have to say: "This was wonderful, but this is not it."

They are drawn to aberration, absurdity and randomness with the hope that in that mess, perhaps there will be found something implicit and strange and un-wished for.  They are drawn to pain more than joy, because for them the pain of their thirst is constant.  They are drawn to silence more than words, because to them words are very solidly in the realm of the known.

Is it possible for these two persona to exist in one individual, or for him to be one or the other at different times?

(to be continued)


Anonymous said...

Your need a 3rd category, the hedonists, nihilists, existentialists etc. Those who are not seeking anything and see no meaning in life.

Anonymous said...

Well... when you seek it should be at the back of ur mind that seeking, the pinch of awareness is at a cost. Its not free. So while one seeks thru interaction with others one must create liabilites that match the assets one has achieved thru that pinch of awareness. Perhaps once liabilities matching assets is clear... the purpose of life will be clear. And once the purpose is clear living becomes easier.

Anonymous said...

Great post Harman!

I was ambitious in the beginning and then I became a seeker. Now I'm bit of both.

Your ex-Facebook friend you blocked!

Harmanjit Singh said...

I deactivated my Facebook account around six months ago. Did not block you dear friend. Email me or call me if you wish to catch up.

Pankaj said...

such people don't really exist do they? the only kind of seeker ive come across is that which is most susceptible to joining cults.

Venkat said...

There are also 'hedonist' seekers of the known and hedonist seekers of the unknown: the former go to Ibiza, the latter go to ashrams. There are 'nihilist' seekers of the known and 'nihilist'seekers of the unknown. The former live in the world like the characters on the television show Seinfeld, whilst a true nihilist seeker of the unknown would seek enlightenment knowing that it had no real meaning except perhaps being a 'higher'or 'happier'state of being. I think that this is a brilliant essay/post Harman. Perhaps when one has too much of the known one drifts into the unknown.