Monday, May 17, 2010

everyone is enlightened except me

this morning i have no answers. why are we here? accident? to learn lessons, eventually escaping the wheel of karma? to work our way to heaven, or hell? the more i ask myself, the less i understand. does time really exist, or is it merely a human invention, misperception?

as for personality, how permanent is it? friends i've known haven't changed, unless they've suffered brain-damage. what about extreme suffering? elie weisel says of those inmates of auschwitz, "To the victim of the 'concentrationary' system, it no longer mattered that he had been an intellectual labourer, angry student or devoted husband. A few beatings, a few screams turned him into a blank, his loss of identity complete."

how much does education change our behavior? does it make us more thoughtful and kind, or cruel and self-centered? weisel also writes, "Those engaged in its practice (murder) did not belong to a gutter society of misfits...Many held degrees in philosophy, sociology, biology, general medicine, psychiatry and the fine arts." a movie going around right now - girl with the dragon tattoo - certainly takes this point of view.

one friend keeps telling me i write (think) pessimistically! how absurd. at least i think he's wrong. what i'm trying to do is get down to the essential. and though i have no answers, i do know we always have a choice, how to take an insult, what to do in an emergency, to get married or not. yes, sometimes these decisions have to be made lightning fast, and we may very well go astray, be wrong. yet we are the ones picking the path.

certainly, actions have consequences. sometimes we can't foresee them. lady macbeth goes crazy from committing murder. she thought herself made of sterner stuff. you turned left when you should have turned right and got lost. all we can do in such situations is accept responsibility. to blame others a waste of breath. ,

to know yourself. that certainly helps when at a crossroad. you can ask for help, only you can accept or refuse it. i keep thinking of the good samaritan killed on camera, lying on the sidewalk dying while dozens of people walk past (one even turns him over and walks away). he'd been stabbed helping a woman being mugged. the irony of it painful to contemplate.

no, i don't think i ultimately have a gloomy view. guess i'm really an existentialist, in the classic french philosophy of sartre and camus. what we do comes back to us. at least we can know that.

see the projects for meso-american art history. creating something with a sense of culture and history, it helps us possess another time and place not our own.