Possibly, even probably, not

Photo by Photo Boards on Unsplash

Politics, politics, politics. Sucking the joy out of so many lives, as some rage and riot, throw tantrums on Twitter or other social media mental illness generators, seeding hate and division against those who don’t agree with their every 240 character opinion, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Imagine this is the story of your life. Maybe you don’t have to.

Seriously, this is a life of poverty, a life without humor, without joy, without laughter. A life focused on gaining any finger-hold of power over other people’s lives, without any power of control over your own, a life of constant criticism and complaining.

Is this the story of your life?

Is your life even a story?

Media and social media, fiction and art, governments, push narratives on us every day, every hour, every minute it seems, as if our lives are one big story. People in search of some meaning in their lives, something to construct a bigger narrative, a bigger story for themselves, whether it’s religion or politics of celebrity worship (do you really think LeBron James would wear a jersey with your name on it?), something, anything, to construct a story that says, my life is bigger than me. My life has some grand plan, some grand narrative, some grand meaning.

Is the story of your life?

Jordan Peterson found world renown pushing ideas of individual responsibility in a world of group-think and suffering.The fame seems to have pretty much destroyed him. Or maybe it was the ideas. Is there a story here? I’m sure the media thinks so.

One of the many books I’ve read over the course of the COVID 19 story (and that is a positive in a world of negatives) is Milan Kundera’s novel, “The Joke.” Written in 1967 under the communist regime of Czechoslovakia, the novel basically tells the story (and novels are stories), without giving anything away, of Ludvik Jahn and how his life is ruined by a joke about Marxism and optimism. Basically, he’s cancelled, as so many millions were under communism, and continuing now under the toxic communist-influenced Woke mass-revolt-against-anything-we-don’t-agree-with regime.

Anyways, in “The Joke” there is an amazing passage about life, meaning, and stories:

“For all my skepticism, some trace of irrational superstition did survive in me, the strange conviction, for example, that everything in life that happens to me also has a sense, that it means something, that life speaks to us about itself through its story, that it gradually reveals a secret, that it takes the form of a rebus whose message must be deciphered, that the stories we live comprise the mythology of our lives and in that mythology lies the key to truth and mystery. Is it an illusion? Possibly, even probably, but I can’t rid myself of the need continually to decipher my own life.”

Postmodernism was all about the deconstruction of grand narratives, and yet the grand narratives keep returning. If your life is a story, then it is a puzzle hiding a secret that must be revealed, it has meaning that must be deciphered, the story of your life is a grand narrative or mythology that contains the key to truth and mystery.

Imagine a life spent continually deciphering the meaning of your own life. And if you’re not finding that meaning, that secret, then you the deciphering impulse pushes you to find it in something else, something larger, something that overwhelms and disintegrates the mythology of your own life into a larger mythology like politics, politics, politics, 24/7, deciphering yourself into madness and unhappiness.

The critical impulse, the constant need to interpret everything, is essentially a negative impulse, a destructive impulse. Is your life a story? As Kundera writes, possibly, not, even probably not. The madness of crowds is also the madness of individuals. Nobody’s ever written a book called The Wisdom of Crowds.

If your life is indeed a story, shouldn’t it be one filled with joy, and laughter, and positive impulses? If you’re spending every waking moment of your life criticizing and complaining, deciphering and destroying, throwing public temper tantrums and slinging shit at others on social media, if you’re a Spotify employee trying to destroy Joe Rogan’s freedom of podcast speech, why, why, why? Power? A grand narrative? Some great deciphered meaning in your life?

I’m reminded of a diary entry by Franz Kafka: “Sunday, 19 July. Slept, awoke, slept awoke. Miserable life.”

Writing. Literature. Philosophy. Culture. Ph.D. U of Arizona.

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