Go with a smile!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sopranos and Existentialism

There was an episode of the Sopranos where AJ, Tony Soprano’s son starts quoting existential philosophy and ruminating on the essential emptiness of life. I was a bit like him when I was his age, always wondering about what the deeper meaning of life. When you were very young, as a child, you never questioned the authority or the sanctity of the establishment. However, once you started seeing the façade, and once the magic is gone, you will understand very well that the system is totally imperfect. And the question is what are you going to do about it? Some people would call it the absurdity of life. One school of thought, which is put forward by Nietzsche and Sartre would be to turn your back on tradition and conservative thought, and be answerable only to yourself. The message of existentialism would be unremittingly bleak. “One must choose between boredom and suffering”, says Meadow Soprano. The eye-rolling after Tony screams at her to go to her room is a wonderful piece of acting.

That was what I thought at first. But in my early twenties, I found a solution to the conundrum. I had just watched “American Beauty” and it resonated with me because of what I was feeling at that time. Life only has meaning because of what meaning you make out of it. Otherwise if you wanted to go on the bare facts, it would be brutal – you’d only live for so many years, and it’s bookended by babyhood and old age – periods of empty unproductivity where you can’t keep your shit in and you’re uncomprehending of what’s going on around you. But if you were to engage your emotions in the world, and if you simply decided, I’m going to be happy, and I’m happy enough being happy and content, it’s pretty good. There wouldn’t be any need for destruction, and there wouldn’t be a need to tear down the old structure whereby there was a God watching over you, and then complain bitterly that there is a God-shaped hole in your heart. In fact, if you were to think for it for a second, it’s fucking stupid to do that.

That’s why I never had any truck with the atheists. The big problem with the atheists is that they object to the notion that there is a metaphysical structure to the universe. But then at the same time they believe in humanism, which is itself a metaphysical structure to the universe. And then they do not realize that God is an attempt to answer the big questions of life, and instead persist on re-inventing the wheel when the wheel is for most intents and purposes good enough.

A lot of the humanists claim they are looking for the truth, and then they tear down a lot of good institutions solely on the basis that it is based on constructed meaning and is therefore flimsy. After a little bit of fucking around with books and ideas I came to the conclusion that all meaning in life was constructed and therefore flimsy in that way. If you were looking for some kind of meaning that wasn’t constructed, you are looking for a unicorn that does not exist, then you probably are stupid and need some education.

That’s the problem with existentialists. You tell them, listen to Jesus and the message of love. They’re like we don’t like that fluffy fairy tale stuff. OK. You tell them to get practical and go out into the real world and just live life simply and be happy. They’re like we’re too good for that. Then after that they’re like “boo hoo hoo life doesn’t have any meaning”. I’m like boo fucking hoo indeed.


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