Tuesday 20 May 2014

Hopes of happiness - immersive unselfconsciousness


I have always had difficulty in planning ahead - the future never seems real.

What of future happiness? Before I was a Christian, this was naturally bounded by my mortal life on earth - and my own capacity for happiness, plus the capacity of my circumstances in enabling happiness.

Hopes of happiness were therefore hopes of the best and most durable kind of happiness that I had experienced, but unshadowed by knowledge of their temporary nature. Thus, the hope was of immersion in a daily-round, a cycle of modest contentment in the minutiae of existence.

The idea was that I might find a situation which was sufficiently comfortable and safe-yet-stimulating that I could simply fold-in on myself, cease to consider the past or future, and just trundle in circles until - preferably without warning - I keeled-over: dead.

This was - in other words - simply a matter of getting through life in the least-unpleasant way possible. Life wasn't going anywhere or doing anything, and consciousness was mostly a curse (except when in a bad situation - when it might recall better times or anticipate better times).

This immersion was the thing. Mentally, I would fling myself into a desired situation. This was paradoxical, in that I was both flinging into, and trying not to be aware that I was doing it - but - for example - I might be reading or thinking about something like The Lord of the Rings, perhaps the simple life of hobbits or wood elves; and felt inside that world; so I could see, feel and smell that world - and be content. Or it might be a holiday in a favourite place; simply being there - or a favourite time of day (spring early morning, fresh winter snow...).

And when it wasn't actually happening here and now - the thought of having done this, and being able to do this, was like a bubble in the mind - or perhaps a continuing stream running through life; into which I could (typically with lesser completeness) hurl myself and be.

The vague hope was that having got into the situation in a conscious manner, or by sheer luck - the thing might become unselfconscious and self-sustaining.

Such ideas were completely self-ish - completely and necessarily at odds with family, friends, work, politics, art and achievement... The solipsistic hope was for a complete autonomy - or, lacking that, for a simulation of it where I was provided-for in all essentials without need to think about it.

No doubt I was unusual - but I suppose something similar (although perhaps more extreme - such as the hope of total and permanent immersion in obliterative excitement, sexual ecstasy or intoxication) must be going-on for anyone who conceives life as wholly bounded by mortality.

Life as futile - thus hope of a life of pleasant futility; and hope that self-knowledge of the futility of life will be lost.