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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Ironic Emotions

Stories and Myths as Wind-Dancers

The Pride felt at something one had done and has done well is very different from the Pride one feels going forward: the first is a feeling of excitement and joy at a job well done; the latter is a long-term mythification of one's superior abilities.
This is why Pride goes before the Fall: an ongoing mythification of an emotion based in the past, a deceptive emotion. For example, the Pride felt by the USA after the end of World War II was an immediate and excited outburst of emotion that stemmed from the years of effort and a job well done. Part of the end of that job was the foremost stature of the USA in the world, along with the USSR.
However, the ongoing sense of superiority based on this exceptional victory was a mythification, a spinning of a story built upon Pride that was a thing of the past. It led the USSR to its dissolution and the USA to its American Empire, during which time I watched amazed as we marched off to Iraq, thinking it would be a "cake-walk" and that somehow, magically or supernaturally, everything we believed to be the case would be true.

It was very different.
And in 2008, the American Empire realized that it had shot itself in the foot severely, and we are still waiting to see whether it will recover fully, and how long recovery to any state of health will be.

To be Humble is not to never feel Pride; Humility is to not create a culture of Pride, a complex of proud myths, which transforms itself to Arrogance.
The Evil in Pride is not the quick and immediate outburst: it is the "lamprey" of emotion based on something past... as if History itself marks us as being worthy forever. Such long-term Pride is like that lamprey that attaches itself to our flank, bores into our interior, and parasitically lives on until its host dies.

Pride as a Myth is Arrogance, and it will be Humbled by its very existence, for there is nothing in the universe to maintain the life of such a fiction. Pride undergoes an ironic change as it slips on a banana peel of asset bubbles, for one example. Even the Hate of the families of Verona could not resist being switched to Love by the star-crossed lovers that were their children. And in this story we see the difference in the nature of the emotions when they are quick and immediate versus the long and drawn out myths of emotion: the love of Romeo and Juliet was so intense - like the fire being brought to the gunpowder and by touching, consumes itself violently! - that Friar Lawrence thought it best to marry them hastily.
The Love which follows on after the years is a different love, as we know. And furthermore, this later type of Love does not so easily reverse itself into Hate. Intensely emotional Love may pass into Hate, but the long-term Love - such as that of a Mother for a Child - does not easily undergo an ironic transform.

To be plain and simple, humble and meek, is to be as complex and convoluted, as full of pride and the boastful joy of accomplishment in the immediate presence of one's accomplishments, but it is to decline to extend these emotions to the future where the accomplishments themselves are memory and no longer substance. 
(Some religious groups emphasize the avoidance of the original emotion itself in order to avoid the long-term problem of emotional attachment to great feelings and myths based on them.)

Emotion based on memory changes with the memory... that is why Orwell had his Ministry of Truth in 1984: to show us that History is a story that may be changed, and we allow it to rule our emotional lives at our own peril of enslavement.

The soul needs to embrace the immediacy of life, and to shun myths and accounts of the past. We are not talking about past events per se; we are talking about "past events" that are recounted as a drama to slake our emotional thirst, and which are little more than juvenile day dreams. If we wish an account of War, read Tolstoy, read Hemingway, but enjoy them as Momentary Catharsis, for such works of art are individual and they are well-defined and limited; if, for example, War and Peace could as if by magic continue to spin out its story after hundreds of years, it would no longer be a work of art; it would have become a sorcerer's artifice and a baneful will-o-the-wisp that would enchant us and deprive us of our independent thought, and lead us to our ironic doom.



knutty knitter said...

One thing I have always found offensive is the way those who win something always thank god for it even though their winning means that others have lost. As if somehow they are more worthy of god's notice than all the rest.

This is something particularly noticeable from Americans. To the rest of us it sounds very arrogant as if god only exists for winners and especially American winners.

A little humility would be good along with actually owning your own achievements and failures as they occur.

Does that make any sense???
It's rather late here...

Montag said...

It makes sense, but we are not raised to make strenuous efforts in that direction.

Most of us talk and imagine as much or more than we do.

I sort of think that if I am really quite busy, and I find it fulfilling, I might not have the time nor inclination to dwell upon my imaginary greatness.