And the wave of tenderness and pity that at once filled his heart was not the stirring of the soul that leads the son to the memory of the vanished father, but the overwhelming compassion that a grown man feels for an unjustly murdered child—something here was not in the natural order and, in truth, there was no order but only madness and chaos when the son was older than the father. The course of time itself was shattering around him while he remained motionless among those tombs he now no longer saw, and the years no longer kept to their places in the great river that flows to its end. They were no more than waves and surf and eddies where Jacques Cormery was now struggling in the grip of anguish and pity. He looked at the other inscriptions in that section and realized from the dates that this soil was strewn with children who had been the fathers of graying men who thought they were living in this present time. For he too believed he was living, he alone had created himself, he knew his own strength, his vigor, he could cope and he had himself well in hand. But, in the strange dizziness of that moment, the statue every man eventually erects and that hardens in the fire of the years, into which he then creeps and there awaits its final crumbling—that statue was rapidly cracking, it was already collapsing. All that was left was this anguished heart, eager to live, rebelling against the deadly order of the world that had been with him for forty years, and still struggling against the wall that separated him from the secret of all life, wanting to go farther, to go beyond, and to discover, discover before dying, discover at last in order to be, just once to be, for a single second, but forever.
—Albert Camus, The First Man. (via acknowledgetheabsurd)
I’m attracted to intelligence. Not the book smart type of intelligence. I could care less whether you’ve gone to college or how much money you make because of it. I like intelligent conversations that make me think even hours after it’s ended. I soak up words from radical minds.
If your mind carries a heavy burden of past, you will experience more of the same. The past perpetuates itself through lack of presence. The quality of your consciousness at this moment is what shapes the future.
The key to the creative type is that he is separated out of the common pool of shared meanings. There is something in his life experience that makes him take the world as a problem; as a result he has to make personal sense out of it. This holds true for all creative people to a greater or lesser extent, but it is especially obvious with the artist. Existence becomes a problem that needs an ideal answer; but when you no longer accept the collective solution to the problem of existence, then you must fashion your own. The work of art is, then, the ideal answer of the creative type to the problem of existence as he takes it in —not only the existence of the external world, but especially his own: who he is as a painfully separate person with nothing shared to lean on. He has to answer to the burden of his extreme individuation, his so painful isolation… His creative work is at the same time the expression of his heroism and the justification of it. It is his “private religion,” as [Otto] Rank put it.
Ernest Becker in The Denial of Death, the thesis of which can perhaps be summed thusly: humanity sublimates its fear of death through the causa sui project: the construction of meanings which are enduring and non-contingent despite our mortality and ludicrous, creaturely contingency. Society, culture, and the illusions on which we depend are the fruit of this “immortality project”:
The fact is that this is what society is and always has been: a symbolic action system, a structure of statuses and roles, customs and rules for behavior, designed to serve as a vehicle for earthly heroism. Each script is somewhat unique, each culture has a different hero system… It doesn’t matter whether the hero-system is frankly magical, religious, and primitive or secular, scientific, and civilized. It is still a mythical hero-system in which people serve in order to earn a feeling of primary value…
Heroic roles might include “breadwinner,” “mother,” “shaman,” “scientist,” “hedonist,” or any other designation which indicates how a person justifies their exertions and sufferings, pleasures and triumphs. Even to claim total purposelessness is a kind of assertion of meaning: a modest refusal to participate in hero-systems is a kind of heroism, a sought-out exceptionalism to this organismic problem of individuation and death. Indeed, when we talk of meaning as such, perhaps we are merely describing those symbols which exceed the individual but do not disappear into the inhuman cosmos, those ideas which are not organismic, will not die with the matter or, if they do, will somehow still suffice to justify its existence.
Becker’s work fascinates with its elucidation of how death drives this search for meaning and how the accidentally-developed and arbitrary illusions which provide meaning can both support the transcendence we require and enslave us. Indeed, Becker devotes much of the book to neurosis, which he suggests occurs when illusions fail, when hero-systems malfunction, and when the creature cannot escape his mortality:
What we call the well-adjusted man has…the capacity to partialize the world for comfortable action… [T]he “normal” man bites off what he can chew and digest of life, and no more. In other words, men aren’t built to be gods, to take in the whole world; they are built like other creatures, to take in the piece of ground in front of their noses… [A]s soon as a man lifts his nose from the ground and starts sniffing at eternal problems like life and death, the meaning of a rose or a star cluster, he is in trouble. Most men spare themselves this trouble by keeping their minds on the small problems of their lives just as their society maps out these problems for them. These are what Kierkegaard called the “immediate” men and the “Philistines.” They “tranquilize themselves with the trivial” —and so they can lead normal lives.
What we call neurosis enters at precisely this point: some people have more trouble with their lies than others. The world is too much with them, and the techniques they have developed for holding it at bay and cutting it down to size finally begin to choke the person himself. This is neurosis in a nutshell: the miscarriage of clumsy lies about reality.
Both the neurotic and the artist are people for whom society’s hero-system and culture’s roles and meanings have failed in some measure, but whereas the former responds with ineffectual or destructive compulsions —misguided efforts to control and organize the terrors of organismic life, or to imbue them with specious meanings— the latter attempts to ”justify his heroism objectively, in the concrete creation.” But the two are not so far apart, as everyone familiar with the association between neurosis and creativity knows:
The neurotic exhausts himself not only in self-preoccupations like hypochondriacal fears and all sorts of fantasies, but also in others: those around him become his…work; he takes out his subjective problems on them… The neurotic’s frustration as a failed artist can’t be remedied by anything but an objective creative work of his own. Another way of looking at it is to say that the more totally one takes in the world as a problem, the more inferior or “bad” one is going to feel inside oneself. He can try to work out this “badness” by striving for perfection, and then the neurotic symptom becomes his “creative” work; or he can try to make himself perfect by means of his partner. But it is obvious to us that the only way to work on perfection is in the form of an objective work that is fully under your control and is perfectible in some real ways. Either you eat up yourself and others around you, trying for perfection, or you objectify that imperfection in a work on which you then unleash your creative powers. In this sense, some kind of objective creativity is the only answer man has to the problem of life… He takes in the world, makes a total problem out of it, and then gives out a fashioned, human answer to that problem. This, as Goethe saw in Faust, is the highest that man can achieve.
I am partial to that definition of art, incidentally: a fashioned, human answer to the problems of the interiorized world of a given artist. Becker continues with a cold, obvious, and sadly persuasive point:
From this point of view the difference between the neurotic and the artist seems to boil down to a question of talent… [The neurotic] can glorify himself only in fantasy, as he cannot fashion a creative work that speaks on his behalf… He is caught in a vicious circle because he experiences the unreality of fantasied self-glorification. There is really no conviction possible for man unless it comes from others or from outside himself in some way —at least, not for long. One simply cannot justify his own heroism in his own inner symbolic fantasy, which is what leads the neurotic to feel more unworthy and inferior.
And what gives you your sense of meaning? Into what role do you pour yourself, and by what sort of creation are you satisfied? Do you, like me, sometimes notice with horror that your idle time is spent trafficking in the most pitiful and empty fantasies —shortly to be forgotten, a waste of daydreams— and your working hours pass with your nose to the ground before you? Have you a causa sui project, or have you found your meaning on a shelf, readymade for you? Are you quick to critique the hero-systems of others, or do you feel a kinship with all who seek meaning, who at least talk of purpose, love, death, as opposed to the goddamned news?(via mills)
I could need you in many ways yet I don’t; I love you in many ways. It is peculiar. I need you only in the sense that you need yourself. I don’t expect anything to be mutually intense among us. I somehow like the thought of being the one who is feeling already more than one should. But I need you to believe that you are distinctively refreshing. And uncommon. And intriguing. It is an extreme oddity of mine but I need you to believe that. Call it a form of paranoia; I know that I am feeding your ego right now. Call it self-defense; I am putting in words your uniqueness in an attempt to explain to my own self why is it that I adore you. The truth is: You shine out like the sun shines out and you melt away all my intentions of a fatal, whatsoever, description regarding what is it exactly that you do. There is no exactness. See, it takes suns and miraculous imagery to slightly sketch you in words whereas you probably are as complex as an impressionist painting of impeccable quality. You continually provoke my blatantly awful poetical instincts; that is for sure.
There is a heart buried in the backyard and the neighbors are starting to complain about the smell. It’s not mine, but I am still purple as a bruise. My dearest Superman, there are other ways to be brave than becoming a martyr. I stitched that cape myself and wrapped it around you like sacrifice. Like ‘please come back when you’re done saving everyone’. Like ‘please stay safe while you’re chasing your monsters’. My dearest Superman, you have a chest that roars like a stadium full of fire. There is no shame in putting out some of the flames. There is no shame in quiet survival. My dearest Superman, your heavy eyelashes have swept the evil out of every city you’ve loved. Come back and look at me the way you used to. My dearest Superman, if this were a different story you’d step out of the phone booth and forgive yourself for not answering the calls. But you are already on someone else’s planet trying to stop the explosions before they happen. My dearest Superman, if you knew about the war in my hands, you would have spent a lifetime counting the casualties. You would have never left my side. My dearest Superman, sometimes it is easier to count the breaths of the living instead of the bodies of the dead. Sometimes it is easier to create your own peace than it is to destroy everyone else’s war. My dearest Superman, it’s okay if you need someone else to be the hero. It’s okay if you are tired of being so brave.
If a girl is to do the same superman thing where he takes off his disguise, we just look pervy. Not the same effect
First of all: bullshit.
Secondly: If you are not doing the Linda Carter spin, then you’re doing it wrong.
how did you do that so smoothly?
thats some broadway musical shit
But seriously, I think I love you.
heck no, i’m callin dibs
Sorry friend, thatseanguyblogs called dibs first. ;)
OH MY GOD THAT’S SO CUTE
It is difficult to find happiness within oneself, but it is impossible to find it anywhere else.
—Arthur Schopenhauer (via katuytiepo)
We will gradually become indifferent to what goes on in the minds of other people when we acquire a knowledge of the superficial nature of their thoughts, the narrowness of their views and of the number of their errors. Whoever attaches a lot of value to the opinions of others pays them too much honor.
—Arthur Schopenhauer (via hopelessromanticslovesickpoets)
That human life must be some kind of mistake is sufficiently proved by the simple observation that man is a compound of needs which are hard to satisfy; that their satisfaction achieves nothing but a painless condition in which he is only given over to boredom; and that boredom is a direct proof that existence is in itself valueless, for boredom is nothing other than the sensation of the emptiness of existence.
We complain of the darkness in which we live out our lives; we do not understand the nature of existence in general; we especially do not know the relation of our own self to the rest of existence. Not only is our life short, our knowledge is limited entirely to it, since we can see neither back before our birth nor out beyond our death, so that our consciousness is as it were a lightning-flash momentarily illuminated by the night….
—Arthur Schopenhauer, Essays and Aphorisms (via heteroglossia)