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Inchoate amid the stones

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  • trop_de_simones
    Aside from the poor souls who have legitimate reasons for their suffering, why is it that so many of us struggle to be happy? In each generation there is a
    Message 1 of 4 , Oct 4, 2005
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      Aside from the poor souls who have legitimate reasons for their
      suffering, why is it that so many of us struggle to be happy? In each
      generation there is a voice for hope and change; yet the substantial
      changes that people expect, the assured significance of their lives,
      and the healing of our political and fragile earth, never
      materialize. Why do we love others; spend our compassion on the
      suffering; why do we create so many modes of expression; why do we
      produce objects of comfort and pleasure? With the latter I do not
      intend commodity or consumerism, but the simple personal gifts we
      give one another. I prefer to think that these are individual
      manifestations of our sense of responsibility for the species. They
      are selfish and altruistic.

      I am now thoroughly convinced that all we can do is enable an other's
      freedom, but what they do with it is their choice. Freedom is
      relative and frightening: this is what the existentialists
      emphasized. And the responsibility they advocated? It certainly isn't
      the facile, lip-service type we see so much from politicians today.
      To say you take responsibility and do not suffer for it, is not
      genuine. Where are the repercussions, the losses, the humiliations?
      To live with your decisions is difficult. How can anyone in public
      life, responsible for the lives of thousands and millions, stubbornly
      refuse to accept the consequences of their actions? Each of us has to
      do so, day in and day out. It is more honest to say you take no
      responsibility than to say you do, if you don't.

      With their memories of WWII, their political quagmires and driftings;
      the dropping of nuclear bombs; and the build-up on their European
      soil of both American and Soviet WMD's; the existentialists (and
      their American counterparts) were asking, "how do we go forward from
      here?" Do we have to choose between the extremes of fascism or
      communism? Are there no other choices? The French perceived that
      their country had become unimportant; and to this day, they struggle
      for a significance role on the political stage.

      how does it feel?
      you're invisible now, on the steeple
      you got no secrets to conceal
      how does it feel?
      to be on your own
      with no direction home
      like a complete unknown
      like a rolling stone
      how does it feel princess?
      you used to be so amused
      and all the pretty people drinkin',
      thinkin' that they got it made
      exchanging all kinds of precious gifts and things
      that diamond ring?
      you'd better pawn it babe
      how does it feel?
      when you got nothing, you got nothing to lose
      like a rolling stone

      (with apologies to Bob Dylan)

      If freedom is truly a species driven anomaly, how can that freedom be
      nurtured and applied to survival rather than self-destruction? How do
      we survive and not do it at others' expense? How should we choose?

      What part does happiness, comfort and interest play in the life of
      self and others? The existential writers questioned themselves; what
      was the relevance of writing anything? Is there a legitimate
      political movement? These were and are the struggles of the
      existentialist. And these questions are not solely those of the
      privileged. All Westerners do not live a life of ease. We can't blame
      ourselves for having the opportunity to work ourselves to death and
      enjoy our leisure time. We must live before we die. We soldier on;
      and without ever knowing what constitutes wholeness, we are wounded.

      "Men live here, and so the earth revolves in the quiet of the night
      with this shining wound in its side." (Simone de Beauvoir)

      Simone
    • Aija Veldre Beldavs
      ... among many balts the two are not seen as polar opposites, but two different branches of the same xtreme. they re even popularly called the red and brown
      Message 2 of 4 , Oct 4, 2005
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        > Do we have to choose between the extremes of fascism or communism? Are
        > there no other choices?

        among many balts the two are not seen as polar opposites, but two
        different branches of the same xtreme. they're even popularly called the
        red and brown versions of fascism (=violent utopianism). this is from
        their differing historical experience.

        and yes, there are, at least in theory, alternatives to the view that
        all-powerful violent imperialisms are the only players who count. some
        people continue to desperately work on it as the time bomb continues to
        tick on. it's very much an alternative to a sense of alienated helpless
        disenchantment.

        aija
      • trop_de_simones
        aija, I probably should have extended the quotation marks to include that thought as well as the preceeding sentence. (Although the quote, Where do we go from
        Message 3 of 4 , Oct 4, 2005
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          aija,

          I probably should have extended the quotation marks to include that
          thought as well as the preceeding sentence. (Although the
          quote, "Where do we go from here?" is a famous one.)

          I've just finished reading some existential fiction and non-fiction
          (most of which I've referenced in the past few months), and I see
          many political and personal similarities to our present situation. It
          is a time of great reaction. At the time I referred to, this amazing
          group of philosophical writers tried desperately to find the varying
          alternatives of which you speak. Unfortunately, the other newspapers,
          public figures and the public at large could not break free from
          seeing life from only those two perspectives, though both are extreme
          and totalitarian. It was such a problem for Sartre, Camus, Beauvoir,
          Merleau-Ponty and all their friends, that many of them believed they
          had to choose sides. Many important friendships ended as a result.
          They had the core for an important alternative future; but I think
          that group was too cynical about capitalism and too optimistic about
          Marxism. In the end it probably did not matter. As they suspected,
          their time was passing in the political arena. However, since their
          era of questioning and writing, there has not been much to rave
          about. Most everything was exposed and debated then: politics,
          morality, freedom, individuality, etc.

          I suspect that by the time the malaise is shattered by catastrophic
          events, there truly will not be much to coalesce around. Maintaining
          our dignity, survival and such will be the topic of discussion. As
          Trinidad once asked, "Will the wolf survive?"

          Simone

          --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, Aija Veldre Beldavs <beldavsa@i...>
          wrote:
          >
          > > Do we have to choose between the extremes of fascism or
          communism? Are
          > > there no other choices?
          >
          > among many balts the two are not seen as polar opposites, but two
          > different branches of the same xtreme. they're even popularly
          called the
          > red and brown versions of fascism (=violent utopianism). this is
          from
          > their differing historical experience.
          >
          > and yes, there are, at least in theory, alternatives to the view
          that
          > all-powerful violent imperialisms are the only players who count.
          some
          > people continue to desperately work on it as the time bomb
          continues to
          > tick on. it's very much an alternative to a sense of alienated
          helpless
          > disenchantment.
          >
          > aija
        • louise
          ... Forgiveness has its place in human life. It is the individual who knows, who understands, place, in such context. Kierkegaard s religious pseudonymous
          Message 4 of 4 , Oct 5, 2005
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            --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "trop_de_simones"
            <trop_de_simones@y...> wrote:
            > Aside from the poor souls who have legitimate reasons for their
            > suffering, why is it that so many of us struggle to be happy?

            Forgiveness has its place in human life. It is the individual who
            knows, who understands, place, in such context. Kierkegaard's
            religious pseudonymous author, Anti-Climacus, in 'Concluding
            Unscientific Postscript', offers clarity for those with the
            requisite intellect and opportunity, regarding the nature of
            judgment, especially critical judgment of one's fellow-man, within
            the domain of a particular philosophical tradition, often
            called 'Western', in which abstract categories are employed. I
            think it would be accurate to credit Aristotle with laying those
            foundations.

            So I refer again to Part Two of the 'Postscript'.
            From Chapter III, for instance,
            'One human being cannot judge another ethically, because he cannot
            understand him except as a possibility.' [p286, OUP 1945 ed.,
            translated D. Swenson, completed W. Lowrie]
            Or this from Chapter II,
            'Socrates was an ethical teacher, but he took cognizance of the non-
            existence of any direct relationship between teacher and pupil,
            because the truth is inwardness, and because this inwardness in each
            is precisely the road which leads them away from one another.'
            [p221, ibid.]

            So this is all intended as [indirect] commentary on Simone's aside.
            For myself, I gasp. To be sure, I would never seek forgiveness,
            even from God Almighty, for being simply laconic.

            "the fish in fine fettle"
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