To Be or Not To Be

A little kingdom I possess,
Where thoughts and feelings dwell;
And very hard the task I find
Of governing it well.
-- Louisa May Alcott.
...........hmmm....that more or less describes my situation !!

~A Wise Man Said~

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
-- Aristotle

Friday, January 02, 2015
Was reading The Fall by Albert Camus yesterday. I wouldn’t recommend it as healthy reading on the first of the year. While I couldn’t relate with many of the monologues—I guess I am too rooted a person even though I have my flights of fancy—here is an extract that caught my attention. It may sound morbid but think of it.

“Men are never convinced of your reasons, of your sincerity, of the seriousness of your sufferings, except by your death. So long as you are alive, your case is doubtful; you have a right only to their skepticism. So if there were the least certainty that one could enjoy the show, it would be worth proving to them what they are unwilling to believe and thus amazing them. But you kill yourself and what does it matter whether or not they believe you? You are not there to see their amazement and their contrition (fleeting at best), to witness, according to every man’s dream, your own funeral. In order to cease being a doubtful case, one has to cease being, that’s all.”

Don’t we sometimes feel that the best way to punish people who do not appreciate you enough or value you enough would be to completely disappear from their lives? But then, like Camus says, what would be the fun if we couldn’t watch their reaction. And worse still, what if, they simply forgot you. Which is more likely than it may seem. Everything and everyone is eminently forgettable and replaceable. Sample this.

“Besides, isn’t it better thus? We’d suffer too much from their indifference. “You’ll pay for this!” a daughter said to her father who had prevented her from marrying a too well groomed suitor. And she killed herself. But the father paid for nothing. He loved fly-casting. Three Sundays later he went back to the river—to forget, as he said. He was right; he forgot. To tell the truth, the contrary would have been surprising. You think you are dying to punish your wife and actually you are freeing her.”

Hmm… well. I won’t say I am as pessimistic about the human capacity for emotion or affection. But the general mass of humans probably forget soon enough. I remember hearing this story about this character who lost his wife and kids in a tragic fire that took many lives. This chap also did what he could to save as many as he could but unluckily couldn’t save his own. Apparently, he married his childhood sweetheart just a year later. My friends who related the story to me didn’t find anything odd about this. The wife and kids are gone now; doesn’t he have a right to life and happiness? What would I have—that he mope around his whole life because he lost whom he loved? What’s so wrong about beginning afresh and all that. Forgive me if I sound a little harsh, but I couldn’t but question this fellow’s sentiments for his wife while she was alive. I mean, if he could forget her in a flash and what is a year but a flash? Well, I don’t know.

Another anecdote in the book really amused me.

“One day while I was eating lobster at a sidewalk restaurant and a beggar bothered me, I called the proprietor to drive him away and loudly approved the words of that administrator of justice: “You are embarrassing people,” he said. “Just put yourself in the place of these ladies and gents, after all!”

See? It’s amusing in such a provoking way! Living in India, any scene with beggars is easy to imagine. One almost sees them and one doesn’t. One almost ceases to think of them as unfortunate ‘humans’. One almost blames them for being a nuisance on a good day… this exchange made me think about it.