Friday, July 22, 2016

Companionship and some smiles


One of the paradoxes of human life is that society corrupts but isolation destroys.  While critiquing Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, J H Stape points out a number of related paradoxes.  Civilisation is a hypocritical veneer over savagery; yet it is a valuable achievement to be vigilantly guarded. Morality is a sham; but without it human beings become sham humans. Awareness is superior to ignorance; yet ignorance can be bliss in many ways. A person who sells his soul does at least have a soul to sell, while most people who try to redeem their souls through quotidian religious practices do not have a soul at all.  

The latest Indispire theme [Human beings need someone in their life. At least a person to ask occasionally, how one feels now. What's your say on it?] brought to my mind these paradoxes. The theme is essentially about relationships. It can be rephrased as: Can we live alone? Do we need at least one companion?

Hermits live alone. However, their god(s) and spiritual practices save them from the potential destructiveness of isolation. There are recluses who are not hermits.  Their dislike of human society sustains their isolation. I guess they find some means of engagement which may be a less spiritual alternative to the hermit’s choice. Pets, garden, books or something else may be their saviours. If they are happy with their choices, I am no one to question them. If they are not happy with the choices, I still have no right to question them as long as their discontent does not spill out in antisocial forms.

Personally, I am not enamoured of any society. I never fit into any of the societies that were kind enough to tolerate me from my childhood. And I had no choice but tolerate them too. Given a choice along with the economic buffers it entails, I would choose quasi-isolation.  Books are good companions. They are not only harmless but also intellectually stimulating and, to some extent, emotionally sustaining. But the emotional sustenance provided by books is a virtual reality, almost like what I derive from blogging. Some real emotions are good. A caring touch, an affectionate glance, some real reciprocity is very reassuring. It makes me feel more human. And that feeling has a comfortable warmth about it.

That warmth can occasionally spark off into a smouldering fire. That’s another inevitable paradox of human life. Since there is no safe escape from such paradoxes, I choose the minimum required. What really matters is that there are more smiles in life with that minimum.





12 comments:

  1. I agree with you. I am same kind of person. Not very social, but have some nice friends and family whose company I like a lot. We can not survive only in virtual world. We do need someone to talk to,love, and share. These are basic human instincts.

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  2. Somehow I practice the same minimalistic approach and can vouch for the fact that a companion, living or non living, is the minimum requirement for one to not fall prey to the mental trauma of complete isolation.

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    1. Whenever I let more people into my life I was inviting trouble. Nonliving things as friends! Well, that's an interesting option. I've mentioned my choice of books.

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  3. Heart of Darkness is one of my favorite novel....read it long time back when I was doing graduation....I want to read it again now to see how it will affect me.....You depict the dilemma of isolation and companionship so well. There are some, me included, who find solace in isolation or in the world of books. But then, when we blog, we connect, we want an interaction. And then, there are times when that gentle touch and an honest care is all that we need to keep ourselves sane.

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    1. It's a challenging novel. That's why it's a classic.

      Somewhere in this virtual space, probably we can escape from Kurtz and other missionaries. I hope. Our virtual isolation and our virtual companionship matter to us. And they may be a threat to the mullas and babas.

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  4. Loved the gravitas of these lines-

    Civilisation is a hypocritical veneer over savagery; yet it is a valuable achievement to be vigilantly guarded. Morality is a sham; but without it human beings become sham humans. Awareness is superior to ignorance; yet ignorance can be bliss in many ways.

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  5. There is a fine line between solitude and be alone. Some people find happiness in their solitude because they have found their belongingness to themselves which is far better than anyone else.

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  6. There is a fine line between solitude and be alone. Some people find happiness in their solitude because they have found their belongingness to themselves which is far better than anyone else.

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    1. The line is rather crude. Certain powers determine it. It may be the terrorists, politicians, religious preachers...

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  7. Interesting read,as usual.I fully agree with you ,sometimes its better to seek one's own company rather then be in the midst of people who are hollow and fake.When I was young I had a higher level of tolerance and was very social,now i find it very difficult to interact with people who's company can be a pain. Like you say Ignorance is bliss and I am happy with my books ,with the telly and with blogs.Its true you can feel lonely in a crowd.Being with myself is actually enjoyable.

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    1. If you are enjoying your own company you will never be lonely. I live alone with my wife. But I am the happiest when nobody interferes. The virtual world of blogging is ok for me. Enough for me.

      It's life and its experiences that make us what we are to a great extent. My own experiences with people have been terrible.

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