Saturday, April 14, 2007

Everything is Pointless

Louie Savva has been contemplating the alleviation of angst at his excellent blog "Everything is Pointless"

It's all very complicated, what with the meaning of life and all, but it has been proposed by existensialists that what impedes happiness is existensial anxiety. I presume they mean stuff like worrying about the mortgage and getting twisted up about the boss and work, worrying about the kids, and whether that failure to get an erection last night was a one off or the start of something more serious.

Louie says:
If tomorrow, I were whisked away to a desert island, allowed to live in peace, with a coconut tree on one side and a breadfruit tree on the other, I might attain happiness for a short while. Nothing like the existential joy that the paper talks about, but perhaps for a short time I might be allowed to enjoy, relatively stress free, that singularly unique experience that is, being alive.

However, such a satisfied state will not last forever, and sooner or later something bad is going to happen. My body will age and begin to fail, and then that fear of death kicks back in, leaving me berating existence until the last breath.

I therefore disagree that existential joy is achieved through transcending existential anxiety. It is merely the potential highpoint of a trajectory, from nothing, back to nothing. It is little wonder that people try their hardest to avoid the truth. What choice do you really have?


Now, when I was a freelance computer programmer living in the Thames Valley, I used to drive past road crews and ditch diggers and think "Man, I wish I was like them. If I was a ditch digger there would be no stress".

Well, years later, and here I am working in a factory. Automated ditch digging. It's shift work, so when I knock off, some other guy takes over. I don't have to worry about mounting paperwork, or deadlines. The end of work is the end of work.

And I can testify, as Louie has hypothesised, we make our own stress and anxiety. There is always going to be something in life to get you uptight.

You can't flee from life. You have to find ways of handling it, coping with it. Which is where religion comes in. Religion is pre-packaged how to cope. When there is no god and no religion you have to figure it out for yourself. I'm not painting atheists as life's heroes here because figuring out how to cope is what millions of people do, and have done, day by day. Part of our problems come from being to proud to ask when we find we can't cope, and to shy to share when we think we are the only ones in the world who can't manage it.

One of Louie's recommended aids in the fight against anxiety is . . .
a gum shield! Stops him grinding his teethe while he sleeps, so he gets a decent nights sleep and emerges in the mornings a less stressed man.

Another plus is that no one has ever been persecuted over gum shield dogma. Yet.

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4 Comments:

At 6:08 am, Blogger Sacred Slut said...

Do you like your life better now? I'm curious...I have a theory that humans think way too much, and that we are really happiest when we are doing manual labor - at least if it's not too physically difficult.

 
At 10:02 am, Blogger Stew said...

The wage is low, so I have to moonlight as a plumber sometimes. (The hours of the factory shiftwork make this quite practcal)
Still, this does mean that for times I was working 16 hour days. I haven't done that for a few months now. My soft computer programmer hands have hardened and scarred. I've never worked so hard in my life, but I'm also very happy. We have discovered here in rural France a sense of community that has disappeared elsewhere. The countryside is beautiful, the schools are old fashioned and disciplined, there is space for the kids to run wild in. We have had to learn skills that would previously had been bought in - carpentry, plumbing, animal husbandry. Every day is an adventure.
So how much of my contentment is related to manual labour and how much is due to the change in environment is difficult to tell.
I'm 45 and done quite a few different jobs. I've always preferred jobs where I have something tangible at the end of the day, something by which I can judge the standard of my work.

 
At 6:04 am, Blogger Sacred Slut said...

Yeah, I used to be a marketing director, and later a market research manager for a couple of big firms in So. California. I hated my last job, where all I did was research stuff, write and think all day. I did make a lot of money, which enabled us to do different things now.

We've also moved to the country and it is beautiful and scenic. Because we are 25 miles from the nearest town, the isolation is sometimes acute, though, which makes it less enjoyable. Although I am getting used to it to the point where now I don't like going to the big city any longer...I'm in danger of becoming a hermit.

But anyway, I'm in the process of starting my own pottery business, and I do love working with my hands and making things.

Your life sounds like it is wonderful for you and your family. What a joy!

 
At 3:22 pm, Blogger Louie said...

Sacred Slut said:
'I have a theory that humans think way too much'

I concur!

 

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