Friday, April 7, 2017

I'm terrible; therefore, I am [Heidegger on Death and Philosophizing, 4/4/17]

            I’ll post this, against my better judgment, because I think it’s probably the most authentic (in the general sense, not the Heidegger sense) engagement I’m going to find with the text.  I wrote this immediately after class on Tuesday, class events, in combination with some external factors, having put me into an…unusual state of mind.

            I am sorry for having little useful to contribute tonight.  I am sorry for ever thinking that I do have something useful to contribute.  I am sorry for what I am.  And I am sorry for how maudlin and self-pitying this post will be, and for not being, right now, the better version of myself that wrote some of my earlier posts.  I fear death far less than I fear intimacy; for I fear that one intimate with me will learn to despise me as I despise myself (sometimes).  Why should the reflective life be more worthwhile than the unreflective one, Heidegger?  It’s arrogant to presume myself reflective, but I do nonetheless; and all that acute self-awareness has brought me is an acute awareness of my failings, a tide of self-doubt and vitriol ready to overtake and cripple me at the slightest opportunity.  Reflection has brought me a fear of others, of judgment, and of myself.  I know why I am miserable, and that knowledge makes me more miserable; because I know that it’s my own fault.
            Should I separate myself from “their” expectations of what I should be?  From “their” influences upon what I am?  There is no self without relation to others and to the world; da-sein is being in the world, being with others.  There is no monadic individual.  What, then, is Heidegger’s authenticity?  Embrace of everything?  Retreat into nothing?  What, in practice, does that mean, and why should I desire it?  I will not sneer at “society,” at “non-deep thinkers”; at least they care about something, “distraction,” “idle talk,” or no.  I will not pretend that my yammering is somehow deeper than a back-and-forth about the weather, nor will I reduce anyone to a faceless avatar of an idealized, thoughtless “they.”  I will no more blame a relatively unsophisticatedly constructed idea of groupthink for everything wrong with my life or with society than I will declare it the normative best.  I believe that people are kinder, more thoughtful, more caring, and more self-justified than critique tends to give them credit for; I believe that callousness, pain, suffering, and cruelty arise more from honest well-meaning, scarcity, incommensurable goods, and people imperfectly trying to muddle through this imperfect world than from “the system,” people “not thinking” or being “irrational” (as if rationality is either attainable or desirable), or from some nefariously constructed “society.”  I am an elitist who hates elitism.  I am a callous jerk who wants everyone to be kind.  I am a skeptic who admires faith.  Now do you see how I loathe myself?
            If angst points me toward my true self, then I’m really quite awful.  I’d rather think that I am more than what angst indicates, so that I can maybe live with myself.

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