Monday, January 12, 2015

On the meaning of life. ... Yes, in one blog-post!

It does not happen often, which is why I am so excited to blog about that.

No, it is not about that, you pervert! ;)

It is all about how a New York Times piece reminded me of my own blog posts.  Yep, it is all about me in this blog--it is, after all MY blog! hehehe ;)

What was the NY Times piece about?  It is in that philosophy corner--The Stone--and is titled "Why life is absurd"

Even as I read that title, I thought, "hey, I blogged about this absurd life."  A quick search. Sure enough, it was less than a year ago.  And the title of that post? "On this absurd life"

I started reading that NY Times piece.  A few paragraphs into it, I read this:
Maybe the problem is not that we don’t have enough time but that we waste the time we have. Seneca famously thought this. (“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.”) Most of us seem unable to refrain from “wasting” time. It is the rare person indeed who can be maximally efficient and productive. For the rest of us — that is, for almost all of us — Seneca’s advice about not wasting time seems true but useless.
Seneca on time wasting?  Hey, didn't I quote Seneca on time wasting?  I didn't even have to do a quick search--it was less than a fortnight back.  And the title of that post? "I know you are not a busy person. Why? You are reading this!"

Ladies and gentlemen, we now have definitive proof: you put this monkey in front of a keyboard and random keystrokes do indeed create philosophical treatises ;)

Ok, all kidding aside, the NY Times essay, which has plenty of humor too, is a wonderful read on how we think about, and deal with, this absurd life.  A great many thinkers have spent some time on this, including Tolstoy:
In the 1870s, Leo Tolstoy became depressed about life’s futility. He had it all but so what? In “My Confession,” he wrote: “Sooner or later there will come diseases and death (they had come already) to my dear ones and to me, and there would be nothing left but stench and worms. All my affairs, no matter what they might be, would sooner or later be forgotten, and I myself should not exist. So why should I worry about these things?”
All our yelling and screaming and crying and laughing is such a bloody waste, I tell ya. What is the point, right, when it is only a matter of time before we die!  All the more why I cannot understand why people then go out of their way to create problems for others--from simple insults to killing and torturing others.  We do all that even when we know that we have limited time and we too will go to waste?  No wonder people create fancy narratives about where they will go after death, eh!
In a famous 1971 paper, “The Absurd,” Thomas Nagel argues that life’s absurdity has nothing to do with its length. If a short life is absurd, he says, a longer life would be even more absurd: “Our lives are mere instants even on a geological time scale, let alone a cosmic one; we will all be dead any minute. But of course none of these evident facts can be what makes life absurd, if it is absurd. For suppose we lived forever; would not a life that is absurd if it lasts 70 years be infinitely absurd if it lasted through eternity?”
Yes, short or long, 40 or 200 years, life is darn absurd.  It is not about the span.  Then?

It is all about understanding the absurdity and creating meaning.
if we cannot remove the obstacle of absurdity then it will be hard to conclude that life has meaning or determine what that meaning might be.
Hey, the piece ends there?
Just when it was getting to be fascinating?
How awful!
How to create meaning?
What is the meaning, dammit?
Why the heck am I here?

Welcome to my absurd world! ;)

Source: Are you kidding me?
Of course, it is from the New Yorker ;)


Ramesh said...

The only "absurdity" is your considering "that" as perversion :):):)

Yes, if you take a larger perspective on life, you do wonder why do we have to descend into all the pettiness, leave alone torture and murder. And yet, are you telling me that I should not let loose the finest stream of oaths at the moron who cut into me and make me slam my brakes yesterday ??

But seriously, I completely disagree that life is absurd. The purpose of life is a philosophical question that has long perplexed mankind. But to live a "good life" - live a life you can be proud of, is hardly absurd.

Stop writing negative posts and write a cheerful one for a change. I know its dark, cold, rainy outside, but it is bright, sunny, a cool 20 deg C, crisp, here and both Liverpool and Barcelona won over the weekend. The sun IS smiling in this backyard.

Anne in Salem said...

Agreed. Pettiness, excessive sensitivity, intentional harm, pain are all absurd. Yes, there are too many examples of these and many other negative aspects of life.

But, there are many more examples of the meaningful in life - caring for others, laughter, understanding, conversation, snuggling, beauty, faith, joy. There is nothing absurd in walking on the beach watching the sunset, even if nothing practical or productive is being accomplished, even if it appears the participants are "wasting time." Sharing time, no matter how short or long, may be the most meaningful of all.

Sriram Khé said...

Looks like I didn't articulate my point there ... so, let me try here:

Only when we truly understand the absurdity if it all will be truly appreciate life itself--not merely our existence, but also the bird chirping, the river flowing, the blue sky and the puffy clouds, sunsets, the children jumping with joy, the old people shuffling along, death, ... which is why I often write about those topics too ... I am not idling away thinking that life is absurd, but deeply involved with life because I am convinced about my absurd existence.


Suleman Ali said...

Lahotar says 'Presently on earth 50%souls r troubled45% r ordinary/low evolution n 5% on some spiritual path.2%of 5% r evolved n 2% of that highly evolved'. That means very few souls will recognise a spiritual path as providing answers