Thursday, January 08, 2009

"Those who suffer, suffer alone"

An excerpt from The Book of Disquiet. A cautionary tale (or an ironic comment) about too much inwardness?


Whether I like it or not, everything that isn't my soul is no more for me than scenery and decoration. Through rational thought I can recognize that a man is a living being just like me, but for my true, involuntary self he has always had less importance than a tree, if the tree is more beautiful. That's why I've always seen human events - the great collective tragedies of history or of what we make of history - as colourful friezes, with no soul in the figures that appear there. I've never thought twice about anything tragic that has happened in China. It's just scenery in the distance, even if painted with blood and disease.

With ironic sadness I remember a workers' demonstration, carried out with I don't know how much sincerity (for I find it hard to admit sincerity in collective endeavours, given that the individual, all by himself, is the only entity capable of feeling). It was teeming and rowdy group of animated idiots, who passed by my outsider's indifference shouting various things. I instantly felt disgusted. They weren't even sufficiently dirty. Those who truly suffer don't form a group or go around a mob. Those who suffer, suffer alone.

What a pathetic group! What a lack of humanity and true pain! They were real and therefore unbelievable. No one could ever use them for the scene of a novel or a descriptive backdrop. They went by like rubbish in a river, in the river of life, and to see them go by made me sick to my stomach and profoundly sleepy.


Folded letters said...

Too much can one call a passerby floating garbage. To be so distanced and completely self-absorbed, to suggest that because one is part of a group, one is without cause/feeling. Ridiculous. None of us are truly alone. We're all part of a whole.

To some of these authors, I want to say "GET OVER YOURSELF" You arrogant whiners.

Of course, I don't direct this at you Alok, I love your posts. I just wonder why people who consider themselves intellectual, are so damn stupid!

"Profoundly sleepy." That got a chuckle of agreement out of me.

Alok said...

Haha, I know what you mean and I felt the same reading this excerpt. One should probably take this with a pinch of salt and not literally. Sort of ironical self-mockery because of being so ridiculously self-absorbed.

Anonymous said...

or is it not the insulated apathy of the 'haves' that u feel so..and I dare say.. may be you can relate to Marie Antoinett of the gone by era and still wonder why was she executed?

Alok said...

Marie Antoinette? Hmmm.

I wasn't defeding this kind of thinking. It is quite understandable actually. One can't develop an ethical sense without looking outward, towards other people...if you keep looking within always everything will start appearing like "rubbish in the water". This probably explains why so many great poets and artists turn out to be monsters in their real lives.

Anonymous said...

on a hindsight.. my last comment appears to me as an act of self- denial and an attempt to question, disparage my own feelings and a way of saying- I relate to your expression.

... and am reminded of Susan Sontag's title "regarding the pain of others"
and I hope "regarding" in the title is not a preposition but a verb...