UNIT JARI | An exercise in existential theory and practical applications to model analysis
The model is me. And I am reporting a malfunction caused by excessive smiling.
Moral Support: Jeca J.
It’s entirely possible that I stopped maturing emotionally after a certain point in my childhood. Honestly, how do people live? Some time ago I lived through a week where I felt maybe four emotions at peak –Sadness, Anger, Disgust, Joy (and yes, I am now identifying my emotions using Inside Out constructs)– and it was a disaster. I’m pretty sure it caused me to be physically sick; it was that stressful.
I’m not built to carry complex emotions.
In times of peace I would be commanded largely by the most subdued and superficial of emotions: indifference, academic and platonic enthusiasm, abstract appreciation for people and life. I have never felt particularly worldly and attached in the way I know some people are. I wonder at the relationships more functional people build around themselves. I wonder why I had to write this piece to figure things out.
I wonder why I’m publishing this. Perhaps I’m still hungover from life.
Introvert privilege and the celebration of the antisocial millennial intelligentsia effectively mask the reality of loneliness. We live by the popular soundbite: “just because you’re alone, it doesn’t mean you have to be lonely”, the assumption being that loneliness is a state of mind, not a situation. Broadly, the applications are quite fair. The current ideology implies that fulfilment and personhood should exist independent of social interaction, availability or acceptability, that we could satisfy ourselves when necessary. It is a celebration of the individual as an autonomous entity.
Before recently I would have agreed wholeheartedly. Physical isolation was a precious and coveted commodity, a respite from the pressures of friendly masquerades. The dangers of extreme isolation are easily mitigated — by distraction, by alternative communications, by preoccupation with the self.
But self-imposed cages are not cages, restricting though they may be. They are affectations. The willing isolation of an introvert is not loneliness or even being alone; it is rest. It must be understood: the condition of being alone is not wholly heroic or desirable. It is not how we want to perceive it. The condition of being alone poisons when there is no choice, when the fact of isolation is a result of circumstance and not of will. In some cases, being alone can actually mean being lonely, and it is horrifying.
There are reasons why poets have lamented the reality of loneliness for centuries. The phenomenon of being mentally, emotionally and culturally divorced from others dehumanizes. Even when there are other accessible social groups present in one’s life, the rejection from a desired peer group stings. Despite what our individualist and adaptive culture preaches on the perpetuation of ‘belonging’ and ‘popularity’ as manufactured desires, it still hurts. We are only human. We are allowed to be trapped in our own mistakes.
Social exclusion makes demons of people. The possibility of happiness is denied; there rise insurmountable challenges to self-esteem. Whether the isolation is completely actualized or not, the feeling of losing support and connection impacts the same. We feel it acutely: the loneliness, the fear, the uncertainty. We feel the frustration of the mute, cut off from the conversations we thought we had the right to. We despair –and even that suffering we illogically romanticize today.
I have learned to define humanity not only by our ability to be abstractly social, but by our despondency when rendered incapable of it. I finally understood why being alone was a negative eventuality. The memory and potential of successful integration magnifies the pain of desocialization. The experience of contrast and knowledge of the converse redefine our personal realities, especially within the frame of loneliness.
The thesis of contrasts suggests that nothing exists independently of any other; we are all as defined by the qualities we inherently possess as we are also defined by the qualities we inherently do not and cannot possess.
The subject applies to everything: to every tangible and intangible social, material or intellectual construct humanity has sought to define. This determines not only people, but the ideas beyond them; the descriptors we use to give meaning are described in return. Quite simply, a person who is happy is not sad, and so happiness becomes opposed by the condition of sadness. That is its definition.
But this is a thesis of contrasts, not a thesis of binaries. The codification of values happens beyond a dual system of light and not light (dark), good and not good (bad) and so on. Life and meaning exist in a spectrum of contrasts. This follows the existence of intermediate values, which can be seen in everything from politics to art. Think of political factions involving conservatives, liberals and moderates. Think of the alignment of people being good, evil and also neutral.
The act of redefining one value in that spectrum redefines another. The strengthening of darkness reinvigorates the equivalent light. True wealth is felt only through the lens of the proportionately poor. The superstitious believe in the wheel of fortune, a continuous cycle of good luck and bad luck. Events are somehow commensurate. A fictional thesis on the phenomenon of rising supervillains argues that it is a natural cosmic response to the existence of superheroes. The universe abhors vacuums and illogical asymmetry, and it seeks to correct it.
And though things are rarely defined by what they are not –and smartly so, as there is an infinite list of things an object cannot be –the discussion still has value.
We exist in contrasts, we live through a spectrum of possible experiences and conditions and values. My loneliness is now a character of many forms: the absence of loneliness, the circumvention of loneliness, and the novel imposition of loneliness.
Let’s assume it is true that redefining the meaning of one thing reinforces the value of another. My experience in loneliness, a product of both circumstance and choice, spurred me to reevaluate my idea of relationships. Perhaps to compensate or perhaps to follow the universe’s tendency towards equivalence, I had gravitated to instances of socialization.
Seeking to reach a happy moderation, I overshot my mark. I have talked to too many people, laughed with friends and conversed with acquaintances. I exhausted my smiles on foreign strangers, and sold my soul to the objects of my infatuations. I was consumed.
But I was able to redefine my loneliness by its impermanence against interaction, and wasn’t that the point?
I have friends. I have family. I am human. Mostly. Maybe I am not human all the time, but at least I know I can be.
You know this post makes no sense, either in content, structure or cohesion. You knew that when you clicked it. Why’d you read it? WHY.