Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Great Unknown

I am still in bed. The room is as messy as it was in my HNT pic, only now there are pieces of the Sunday paper strewn all over the covers and the floor. In place of the beer is hazelnut decaf coffee in my favorite lime green mug with the word friends painted on it that Fellow Seeker gave me for my birthday. The four people I live with either have left or are leaving and the house will be mine. I do not plan to move at all today.

So, in my infinite wisdom I have decided to take this opportunity to write one of my more meaningful posts (well, meaningful to me). It's always fun to write little vignettes about my day at school or my cat chewing up my laptop accessories, but the real reason I have this blog is to puzzle out the mysteries of life.

Existentialism has been coming up a lot recently and I would really like to get down some ideas about it before they are lost forever in the abyss of Sojourness's brain.

Fellow Seeker's birthday was a few weeks ago. I gave him a book of existentialist writings (because philosophy, and this one in particular, has been our fascination for the duration of our friendship and beyond). I have a habit of destroying the books I give as gifts by writing messages on the inside cover. In his, I wrote "To my best friend who agrees that life is meaningless and who does the best job of carving out meaning for himself of anyone I know."

This was inspired by the definition of existentialism that I found on the back cover of another book entitled Basic Writings of Existentialism: "belief that because life has no inherent meaning humans can discover, we must determine meaning for ourselves."

The other day, existentialism came up in my American lit class. Professor G gave us a piece to read on existentialism in American literature that contradicted the idea that European fiction writers alone imbued their characters with a sense of hopelessness and despair.

Existentialism has always made a great deal of sense to me. I think that I was an existentialist long before I knew what it was to be one. Even when I bought into church teachings lock, stock and barrel, I was always fascinated with/consumed by the idea of death. The finality of it. I think about it so much that it's morbid. For example, sometimes I will be sitting in class, listening to the professor, and then it will hit me that s/he and everyone else in the class (including myself) will be dead one day. It depresses the hell out of me, and apparently I'm not alone. Read some of the existentialist writers some time, you'll see. This is something humanity can't escape from. We used to (and still do) create possible after-death scenarios and believe them with all our might in order to cope with this reality, but we are no closer to knowing anything about death than we were millenia ago.

How do we ignore this overwhelming reality and just live for today? I'm the type of person who overthinks everything. I think that this accounts for why I am so obsessed with figuring out the universe. I can't just pick a religion or no religion and leave it at that, and it's not solely because I want an intellectual challenge. Uncertainty about why we're here and where we're going and what it all means - the unknown - makes me crazy. As I said, Counselor told me last semester that I'm frustrated with my humanity. I suppose that's true; I mean, I don't expect to be a goddess or anything, but being human means being ignorant on so many levels and not being able to do anything about it.

Anyone have any thoughts on the subject?

4 comments:

fp said...

the coffee is a good start...lol

WOLVERINE said...

Death is but a door, time is but a window, I'll be back!

sojourness said...

What the hell does that mean? lol

WOLVERINE said...

It means I'm gonna live forever you sad, sad mortal. ;-)