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Showing posts from December, 2006

Changing Psychology

If you want to be happy, be. Leo Tolstoy
Well, it might have been easy for Tolstoy but I found it extremely difficult and at times even impossible. One cannot be happy just because one wants to be. Happiness is a state which is arrived at by a delicate balance of the internal psychology and the external world. One doesn't make oneself happy, but rather finds oneself happy.
In fact, not just happiness, but it is difficult to change any psychological state at will. Some amount of control is possible but that takes long term psychological training. For example, suppose I find myself being jealous. I know I am being jealous and I am simultaneously aware that it is not a right thing to do, but I am just unable to make myself not feel this emotion. And the consciousness of this inability makes me even more miserable. I understand myself and at times I want to change, but I cannot. I just had to learn to accept the way I am, along with my faults.

Unexpressed Love

D: Hey, i have heard X likes you a lot and is deeply in love with you?
E: Hmm.
D: So, is she?
E: How will i know? She hasn't said anything to me.
D: Come on, she must have given some signs!
E: Perhaps, but i never witnessed anything conclusive.
D: Conclusive! Who are you, an evidence seeking idiot?
E: Look, as long as she keeps her love to herself, it's her personal matter, and doesn't concern me. If she ever did reveal it, i'll tell her that i cannot return her feelings. Though i hope that these rumours are wrong, because i hate to disappoint someone who only means good to me.

Existential Alienation

"I no longer know anything. Not only do I not know what kind of a person I am but also I do not know what kind of a person i ought to be. Black and white merge into one another, the world is an amorphous mass, and i no longer have any clear outlines. How is it possible to live without believing in anything or in myself?"

The Woman Destroyed, by Simone de Beauvoir.

Misjudging People

Nobu says to Sayuri in the novel Memoirs of a Geisha, "I don't misjudge people. If you aren't the woman I think you are, then this isn't the world I thought it was." This was precisely what I felt about a certain person. Despite over-whelming evidence, I refused to believe that that person would do such a thing, because it went totally contrary to her nature as I had perceived. I still don't know whether I was right or wrong, but I do know that if I am wrong, I'll have to re-analyze my whole view of human nature again.

Love as Habituation

Some days back, i raised the question that why do we love. At that time, i had proposed that there is no reason for love, and that this emotion is irrational. But after some thinking, i also realized that many times when we fall in love, it is because of a reason... and that is, habituation. That person becomes a habit. We become so used to his/her presence that the very idea of his absence seems to produce anxiety. This is the sort of love that is found between family members and siblings, and also the love that develops in an arranged marriage, between a husband and wife, when they have no feelings of intimacy at the time of their marriage but feel certain that time will bind them together... and well, it usually does too. And an unusual example that is coming to my mind is the often heard cases [at least, in fiction] of the abductees falling in love with the kidnapers. That, too, is a product of habituation.

Russell and Hell

I remember that in adolescence, when i discovered that Bertrand Russell was an atheist, I was horrified, and I felt a knot in my stomach and i had a feeling of dread like you have when your best friend is being tortured right infront of you. Of course, at that time i was quite religious, and the idea that Russell would go to hell was very disturbing, since i was greatly inspired by Russell. And the question "Why would Russell go to hell? This isn't fair!" kept in my mind for a long time, and was instrumental in shaping my thought's about religion.
I still remember that sentence by him which i had read and first found out that he was an atheist: "I believe that when i die i shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive... But i should scorn to shiver at the thought of annihilation." [Bertrand Russell, What I Believe]

Why do you love me?

Suppose the person you love asks you "Why do you love me?", what would you answer?

I love you for your beauty?
I love you for your intelligence?
I love you for the way you talk?
I love you for your smile?
I love you for your money?
I love you for your fame?

No matter what reason you give, the very association of a reason for loving seems to somehow undermine the notion of love. Perhaps the only answer that doesn't give a negative impression is:

I love you for you no reason at all.

But then this seems absurd and irrational. Maybe love is irrational.

Of course, it sounds appropriate and even makes sense to say:
'I like you for your intelligence.'
But this statement gives a very different impression if you say:
'I love you for your intelligence.'

Think about it.

Dynamics of Love

We often tend to think of love in a static manner, that the way we love a person would be remain the same throughout the relationship. Nothing could be more far from reality, i believe. Because even within a single relationship, if it spans over a long period of time, there is bound to a change in the manner of love between the couple. People change, and the way they love also changes, and relationships deteriorate when the love dyanamics of the two persons involved are not synchronized.

And it is not necessary that a person will continue to experience love in the same form as he has in the first relationship. For example, if a person had an experience of romantic passionate love in the first instance, it is not necessary that his next love relationship would be of the same nature. It might be of a totally different kind, such as friendly, companionate love.

So, the idea of static love is an illusion; the dynamics of love are as dynamic as human life.

On Love: Me and Saad

Saad: Oooh! so you commited love in sheer confusion? Sudqay jaoo!
Me: Love is the emotional outcry of a choatic heart. Wow. Not a bad definition at all.
Saad: Tow kya peaceful, tranquil hearts pyar nahi kersaktay? [Trans: Then can't peaceful, tranquil hearts love?]
Me: Muhabbat bai qarari hai, muhabbat aik dard hai, muhabbat aik aah hai, muhabbat madhooshi hai, muhabbat janoon hai! Magar aap ki baat bhi baja hai. :-) [Trans: Love is an uneasiness, love is a pain, love is a sigh, love is ecstasy, love is madness! But what you say is also true. :-)]

Noisy Believers

Nietzsche said 'To him who feels himself preordained to contemplation and not to belief, all believers are too noisy and obtrusive; he guards against them.' And this aphorism came to my mind again and again today, as i was being forced unwillingly into an argument on religion. Why do these religious people consider it their duty to convince others of the validity of their beliefs, and anything short of a full acceptance is seen an insult to their faith. This is very irritating. Believers are too noisy even when they are silent!

Fear, Confusion and Vegetableness

"Nothng is more frustrating than wasting the most intimate feeling of your "self" on a statue of fear,confusion and vegetableness!!!" said my friend Saad Javed. Perhaps nothing can represent better so succinctly the dilemmas of my past, my disappointments and pains. A love that is met, not by a 'Yes', not by a 'No', but a bitter, opaque silence! Nothing can be a worse fate for love than this. Why does one fall in love with a statue? But the first law of love is that 'the heart decides and the mind obeys...'. No amount of reasoning can convince a stubborn heart of the stupidity or absurdity of this emotion. In the end, you have to give up and suffer in silence. Perhaps one too then becomes a statue.

History of Existentialism

Today i delivered a lecture on 'History of Existentialism'. It was a public lecture organized by Youth Vision, a student organization. It was a great experience. The audience was very enthusiastic and the question answer session was very interactive.
The transcript of the lecture can be read at this link:
http://www.geocities.com/awaisaftab/Existentialism_lecture.htm