Friday, May 20, 2011

The Nature of Fear

This is a passage from Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I would highly recommend this book for anyone with an artistic and open-minded view of life.

"I must say a word about fear. It is life's only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unerring ease. It begins with your mind, always. One moment you are feeling calm, self-possessed, happy. Then fear, disguised in the garb of mild-mannered doubt, slips into your mind like a spy. Doubt meets disbelief and disbelief tries to push it out. But disbelief is a poorly armed foot soldier. Doubt does away with it with little trouble. You become anxious. Reason comes to do battle for you. You are reassured. Reason is fully equipped with the latest weapons technology. But, to your amazement, despite superior tactics and a number of undeniable victories, reason is laid low. You feel yourself weakening, wavering. Your anxiety becomes dread.

Fear next turns fully to your body, which is already aware that something terribly wrong is going on. Already your lungs have flown away like a bird and your guts have slithered away like a snake. Now your tongue drops dead like an opposum, while your jaw begins to gallop on the spot. Your ears go deaf. Your muscles begin to shiver as if they had malaria and your knees to shake as though they were dancing. Your heart strains too hard, while your sphincter relaxes too much. And so with the rest of your body. Every part of you, in the manner most suited to it, falls apart. Only your eyes work well. They always pay proper attention to fear.

Quickly you make rash decisions. You dismiss your last allies: hope and trust. There, you've defeated yourself. Fear, which is but an impression, has triumphed over you.

The matter is difficult to put into words. For fear, real fear, such as shakes you to your foundation, such as you feel when you are brought face to face with your mortal end, nestles in your memory like a gangrene: it seeks to rot everything, even the words with which to speak of it. So you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don't, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Semi-New Year Filled With Semi-New Thoughts

I was thinking about creating a new blog, but then I figured I haven't been blogging enough to do so. So instead I've revisited this old page filled with old memories, many of which detail my many complaints about a former life. I don't really want to go through the next glorious chapters of life as a complainer, so I'm going to put an end to my mode of insufferable tirades. New beginnings, in a sort of new year!

My return to the blogosphere was prompted by my final semester in college. For once in my life, I had the liberty to study things purely because I was interested in them. I've been immersing myself in courses dealing with social psychology, sociology, and an anthropological view of American culture from an outsider's perspectives! All these have been great, and have gotten my mind buzzing again. I also chose to take a creative writing workshop, which has gotten the writing juices flowing. There's a lot of potential to hone my craft, and I'm excited for the opportunity.

I'd like to think of myself as an intellectual, as someone who pursues knowledge tirelessly outside the realm of academia. I find the world around us invigorating. I want to know all about other cultures, ways of life, and most of all I want to stay open-minded. We live in a world where culture, values, and even right and wrong can be viewed as subjective. And yet we have so many people who are in opposition to one another because of these subjective views. It seems short-sighted to me, but am I guilty of the same stubbornness or dogmatism at times? Sure.

I'm going to resolve myself to continue writing, and to continue being open to new things and new ideas. The mind is a curious thing that will always continue to grow until the day we cease to exist as we know ourselves now.

I've found purpose in the journey.