Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ourselves Alone

I always find it remarkable that today the dominant idea is that we are all isolated monads floating around in undifferentiated space, that we build our own lives and determine our own destinies entirely on our own. This idea dominating public discourse declares that we should all be heroes in our own private epic sagas set to the music of Richard Strauss. We pull ourselves up into that apotheosis by our own bootstraps, we can all be winners in the great agon of life if we all try harder, if we all be and act heroically. Each and everyone of us alone against the world struggles to be a champion. No tears or help need be wasted on the weak.

And then these same people have the gall to complain about how lonely and unloved they feel.

As the blues song says, "It's a mean old world when you're all alone."

1 comment:

Murdoch Matthew said...

Nelson Goodman in Ways of Worldmaking describes how every baby constructs a universe, using sensory input and the biological tools it's born with. Language provide the means to remember, share, and understand. None of us can fully know another, or be known completely. So the Jews are right -- when a person dies, a universe is lost.

But we are social (tribal) animals; no one becomes human without a community. Language makes us one with our group, and ties us into tribal memories.

So we're both radically alone, and inextricably dependent on community. It's a mean old world anyway; better have help.