Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Let others do what I cannot do

6. Existence in a nutshell

So all of this is about existence I guess, but even more so now as this newest post will be looking at Mr. Sartre, the existentialist. Jean Paul and his huge pipe have said many things about life, existence and the lot that are sometimes disheartening as he is an aetheist and I am not. But I can't help but read what he has to say and agree to some extent with what he says. There are several types of existentialists and not all are aetheists. And in this one phrase, I see why I feel sometimes at a loss or empty.

"Man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world - and defines himself afterwards. "

As we slowly move through life, we are only existing and not yet in our essence. Yes, this is true. Again, our reality being defined by others (see the post on Leviathan) we seem to not become something until late in our life after we have accomplished things, and can be defined by what we have done.

This is refreshing for me. Right now I feel like a waste. But that is not true. The true waste is in thinking ahead of things I can't control. I am nothing as of yet, I merely exsist. That's a song lyric and it is killing me. Well, something along those lines but now I am pissed I can't figure it out. Anyway, moving on, its true that maybe I can focus on not what and who I am, but on the fact that I should be working on who I will become. Although sometimes its easier to think about being a Tralfamadorian of the Vonnegut world seeing life as a stretch of mountains and seeing each moment for what it is, well, we don't see things that way. We see the now. We can dwell on the past, but can't change it. And we can look to the future, but can't predict it.

Quietism is somehting Sartre brings up and he says this "Quietism is the attitude of people who say 'let others do what I cannot do." The doctrine I am presenting before you is precisely the opposite of this, since it declares that there is no reality except in action. It goes further, indeed, and adds, 'Man is nothing else but what he purposes, he exists only in so far as he realises himself, he is therefore nothing else but the sum of his actions, nothing else but what his life is."

This is much like what Woody Allen talks about in Crimes and Misdemeanors via a ficituous teacher who talkes about life and existence to such fruitful extents, but still in the long run commits suicide. Here are the two nuggets of genius Woody Allen expreses through this characeter.

"We're all faced throughout our lives with agonizing decisions, moral choices. Some are on a grand scale, most of these choices are on lesser points. But we define ourselves by the choices we have made. We are, in fact, the sum total of our choices. Events unfold so unpredictably, so unfairly, Human happiness does not seem to be included in the design of creation. It is only we, with our capacity to love that give meaning to the indifferent universe. And yet, most human beings seem to have the ability to keep trying and even try to find joy from simple things, like their family, their work, and from the hope that future generations might understand more. "

To an extent, this seems too true. But if we look at things as becoming and not a set standard of reality, maybe then things will be easier.

Here is his view on love and relationships.

"You will notice that what we are aiming at when we fall in love is a very strange paradox. The paradox consists of the fact that, when we fall in love, we are seeking to re-find all or some of the people to whom we were attached as children. On the other hand, we ask our beloved to correct all of the wrongs that these early parents or siblings inflicted upon us. So that love contains in it the contradiction: The attempt to return to the past and the attempt to undo the past. "

Another half truth in here. However, its not entirely true. Many people look for the opposite of what they are used to. I think I fall into the catagory described here somehow although I have led a pretty great life and don't usually dwell on past wrong-doings. However, I know its true that I am looking for someone to make the past seem undone. I have been hurt before, yes. Many of us have in relationships. But we must look at it as a growing experience that are the building blocks of our very essence.

The essence of our being.

So alas. Not much to add. But after tonights strange existential debacle and void, I figure that I will define who I am not by who I may be right now, but to what the potential of what I can become in the future. Maybe I can find someone of like mind to share these ravings with someday. Maybe some of you, my loyal friends who are probably the only people reading this, will share in this life and add to it. And maybe some of you will hold me back. However, I will take what I have learned already in the past that those things I dwell on that I have no control over, I cannot let them bring me down. Only the things in my control can I lament and embrace. All the different paths, causeways and tributaries of decisions I have made bring me to the sum total of my being.

And I remember what song the lyric from somewhere above was. It's a Four Tops song called "Without the One You Love (Life is Not Worthwhile)". Somewhat fitting to the post and somewhat not. However, like Levi Stubbs stated...

I'm not livin', baby, I only exist.


Anonymous said...

hey paul,

i haven't checked your blog since the movie list, but i like this post. this part -

"I figure that I will define who I am not by who I may be right now, but to what the potential of what I can become in the future."

- is especially true because i like to think that i'm going to continually grow for the rest of my life and hopefully will always have a new potential to reach. it sounds like you've got the right ideas, which is pretty incredible since it seems like most people don't figure these things out until they're over 50.

anyway, the real reason i was going to comment was because i found this website recently, spout.com, and it has all sorts of lists, tags, recommendations, etc. about films. it supposedly also has a pretty good store for hard to find dvds. i'm not sure if it's worthwhile since i haven't had time to check it out, but i thought you might enjoy wasting some time on it.

also, that picture reminds me of jeff goldblum in 'the life aquatic'.

ps. have you seen 'little miss sunshine'? i really really enjoyed it.

pps. sorry for the novella.. kudos if you actually read all that.


Paul Tsikitas said...

Thanks Michele. I'm glad someone is commenting on my material that I work harder on. Reding philosophy and taking bits of info and applying is all right and good, but practicing it is hard. SO as much as I may have the ideas, im not so sure its easy. But hey, its definitely enriching to have some direction.