Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An Existentialist in Distress

"You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams." -Dr. Seuss

I love that.

Okay, so writing this post is mainly for procrastination purposes.

Today I realized one of my biggest fears (among them being suffocation/drowning and bees).

Most people are forgotten. Their children and a few generations after that will remember them in theory if not actually, but eventually it becomes "Oh, yeah, she's my 3x great grandma. Even my mom, by definition, is My Mom, and not herself. Our roles in each other's lives are often what we are valued for-- not ourselves.
Some people live on in their accomplishments, like the Greek heroes, regardless of whether or not their stories are true.
But how many of them are remembered as people? Real people with thoughts and fears and dreams and blogs on which they procrastinate?
Precious few. I can't think of any, except for maybe Anne Frank. However, her story is distorted by the fact that it closely involves the Holocaust. She's still "that Jewish girl who wrote a diary." She's still just famous for her diary- not herself.
So it follows that I will join them-- one of the billions of people who will never be remembered as the person they were.

The fact that I exist is understandably the most important truth to me. Therefore, the fact that I will one day cease to exist and be forgotten is a rather terrifying one. 
So what do I do about it? Well, I blog, for one thing. I journal. I write letters to no one during math class. I save halves of folders from kindergarten (although I threw that out) that I colored on. I exist, and more than that- I'm a person, and I don't want my person-hood to be lost to the ages. 
Even though it will be, eventually, of course.
I don't want my journals published for all to see. I just want my 3X great grandchildren or whatever to read what I've written and realize that I was once a person just like them. 
I want to be retroactively imagined complexly, I guess, in addition to being imagined as such in the present.

When my Debate  Team coach read the poem that I wrote that I am going to be performing for my event, he said "This is kind of an existentialist poem, isn't it?"

Here is how Wikipedia defines it:

Existentialism is a term applied to the work of a number of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences,[1][2] generally held that the focus of philosophical thought should be to deal with the conditions of existence of the individual person and his or her emotions, actions, responsibilities, and thoughts.[3][4] The early 19th century philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, posthumously regarded as the father of existentialism,[5][6] maintained that the individual is solely responsible for giving his or her own life meaning and for living that life passionately and sincerely,[7][8] in spite of many existential obstacles and distractions including despairangstabsurdityalienation, and boredom.[9]

So yeah, it looks like I'm a bit of an existentialist, and the poem in question, while centered more on fear and the inevitability of suffering and death (which sounds really morbid when I put it like that), matches that definition fairly well.
Only the problem is that I'm currently (as in, mainly starting today) facing the issue of my own mortality and insignificant place in the world, which I believe falls under "despair" and "absurdity," the latter of which refers to the human desire to find objective meaning and the human inability to succeed in that endeavor.

1 comment:

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