terça-feira, 16 de dezembro de 2008

:: mirrors can only lie ::

Um dos livros mais foda que eu conheço, de um dos meus pensadores prediletos no século 20, é o The Birth and Death Of Meaning, do Ernest Becker. É uma heresia, um escândalo, uma indignidade que isto não esteja traduzido pro português! Não deixem de ler também o grande clássico do cara, A Negação da Morte, esse disponível em portuga, livro vencedor do Pulitzer e um legítimo "mindblower". Toda a problemática e filosofia beckeriana foi recentemente adaptada para o cinema num doc que vem papando prêmios por aí: The Flight From Death - The Quest For Immortality. Tô louco pra ver...

Alguns trechinhos magistrais:

"We come into contact with people only with our exteriors – physically and externally; yet each of us walks about with a great wealth of interior life, a private and secret self. We are, in reality, somewhat split in two, the self and the body; the one hidden, the other open. The child learns very quickly to cultivate this private self because it puts a barrier between him and the demands of the world. He learns he can keep secrets – at first an excruciating, intolerable burden: it seems that the outer world has every right to penetrate into his self and the parents could automatically do so if they wished – they always seem to know just what he is thinking and feeling. But then he discovers that he can lie and not be found out; it is a great and liberating moment, this anxious first lie – it represents the staking out of his claim to an integral inner self, free from the prying eyes of the world.

By the time we grow up we become masters at dissimulation, at cultivating a self that the world cannot probe. But we pay a price. After years turning people away, of protecting our inner self, of cultivating it by living in a different world, of furnishing this world with our fantasies and dreams – lo and behold we find that we are hopelessly separated from everyone else. We have become victims of our own art. We touch people on the outsides of their bodies, and they us, but we cannot get at their insides and cannot reveal our insides to them. This is one of the great tragedies of our interiority – it is utterly personal and unrevealable. Often we want to say something unusually intimate to a spouse, a parent, a friend, communicate something of how we are really feeling about a sunset, who we really feel WE are – only to fall strangely and miserably flat. Once in a great while we suceed, sometimes more with one person, less or never with others. But the occasional break-through only proves the rule.”

”The point is, as the writer James Baldwin so well put it, ‘mirrors CAN ONLY lie’. A mirror shows only your external aspects, it stops at the face, but the face is not what one feels himself to be: even one’s own voice seems strangely alien – when we hear it on a recording we muse ‘is that ME?’ The face is a lie for an animal who really feels himself to be somewhere in his own interior; but you cannot project interiors onto mirrors. We find ourselves in the ironic situation of having to transact with others with the part of ourselves – our exteriors – that we value least. And we are all placed in the position of having to judge others on this least important aspect.”


”The basic question the person wants to ask and answer is ‘Who am I?’ ‘What is the meaning of my life?’ ‘What value does it have?’ And we can only get answers to these questions by reviewing our relationships to others, what we do to others and for others, and what kind of response we get from them. Self-esteem depends on our social role, and our inner newsreel is always packed with faces – it is rarely a nature documentary. Even holy men who withdraw for years of spiritual development, come back into the fold of society to earn recognition for their powers. Nietzsche said of Schopenhauer that he was a model for all men because he could work in isolation and care nothing for the plaudits of the human market-place. The implication is that he had his sense of value securely embedded in himself and his own idea of his work was worth. Yet this same Schopenhauer spent his lonely life scanning the footnotes of learned journals to see whether there was ever going to be recognition of his work.

That is why everyone is always bothering everyone else for a recognition of their basic value: ‘See how great I am, how important, how unique, how good – you see, you notice it, you admit it?’ We either occasionally ask it outright or continually act it, and even the most self-effacing person is nevertheless continually putting the question: ‘Do you value ME?’ The anthropologist Robert Lowie once said that primitive man was a natural peacock, so open was he in self-display and self-glorification. But we play the same game, only not as openly. Our entire life is a harangue to others to establish ourselves as peacocks, if only on furtive and private inner-newsreel images.”


“The tragic bind that man is peculiarly in – the basic paradox of his existence – is that unlike other animals he has an awareness of himself as a unique individual on the one hand; and on the other he is the only animal in nature who knows he will die. As Laura Perls so vividly put it, man is suspended between these two poles: one pole gives him a feeling overwhelming importance and the other gives him a feeling of fear and frustration. Lower animals are spared both the burden of importance at having emerged as sharp individualities, as well as the burden of the knowledge of their own finitude. But man must live the acuteness of the contradiction: he is an emergent life that does not seem to have any more meaning than a non-emergent life – in fact, that seems all the more senseless to have emerged at all, since it is equally mortal.” (141)

“By the time the child grows up he has already banished from consciousness the sense that to have been created at all is an inexplicable miracle; he no longer carries the superhuman burden of the miraculous, no longer feels the weight of having emerged on this planet without knowing why. He has thus exiled from awareness that which would prevent him from acting and living with a minimal animal equanimity, which would reduce him to a wide-eyed creature trembling in a waking trance and gazing toward the heavens. In order to function as a man in the world of men we must reassert enough animal equanimity to ignore both awareness: of despair as well as of miracle. There is no way for us, we are truly ‘fallen’ creatures: we cannot be wholly animals, serenely living miracles, or wholly angels joyfully heralding them, but we must be men earning our bread by the sweat of our brow and salting it with our tears.” (145)