Thursday, July 21, 2011

"emotional placeholders" a section of an essay

Though pragmatism is about getting the necessary chores and duties of life done in an orderly matter, I think at a more intimate level, pragmatism means making the emotions circulate in the best way. This essay, the first of two, talks about the emotions and how to wire them to be effective each day. If you can use all your emotions, you are using all your fuels, and you can get your work done.



3. Emotional Placeholders (part 1)


                Pragmatism is feeling the emotions in a way that smoothes out frustration, is placing each emotion in its best outlet to the world. The heart is a world, the mundus mundi, an inner geography; the emotions are places. We put the objects of the external world in different places of the heart, for those places must be filled by something. All the emotions want to play. Why should I wish I were happier when it is only that very wish which bars me from happiness? For happiness isn’t about smiling and feeling pleasure, but it is about feeling the right emotions in the right way. Even the man who regularly weeps or regularly rages may be quite happy, because those emotions fit his temperament and education and therefore make him feel himself, make him feel in control, make him feel emotionally relieved. Even the most painful emotion feels pleasurable when expressed in the right way. A pure suffering doesn't exist. The heart is meant to be happy, to use all the emotions. Trying to wish an emotion away is merely expressing another emotion, just as the struggle with temptation is itself a temptation, the fighting against the desire is another desire.

                No matter where I am in the world, my preferred set of emotions will find expression in some nearby object. Yes, when we enter a new situation, a new range of emotions must be expressed. Entering the new job is to be in a place where new things must fill certain energizing placeholders. We will inevitably feel anxious, afraid, hopeful, proud, but though all will be filled, what they are filled with depends on choice and opportunity. After working the job for a few weeks, people fall into their typical patterns. I find which persons I can confide in, which I must be careful with, which I can laugh at, which I can laugh with. Soon the place is naturalized, it fits my natural schema. I have twisted a few pipes to fit a few outlets, but the same emotional energy, the same creative jism, is flowing as with any other job. Studies show that lottery winners go back to being just about as happy as they were before they won the lottery, and that after the death of a loved one, we eventually are no more sad than before.

                A state of mind is a place that will always have happiness and suffering. I give you heaven, and you complain of the harps. Your happiness and suffering are in the long run constants, you are destined to feel so much bliss and so much suffering in this life. How you choose to apply them is where your attitude meets your character. You attitude is a combination of your inborn temperament, which is modified with education, and personal choice, which reacts to your education. Your character is in the types of actions you commit so as to apply that attitude to the world. Therefore, don’t aspire to kill off certain emotions, but to configure them all so they best serve your life goal.

                The configuration of emotions is based on both our inner symphony, that personal theme music of our lives, and also the basic life-plot or personal myth we have chosen for ourselves. With a certain configuration of archetypes, we have chosen an importance. I need a mother figure or a antagonist character, and if I can’t make you through creative interpretation fit that role, then I will find somebody who can.

                Therefore, the tender hearted woman who cries a lot is happy to cry a lot. The pissed off customer who demands his rights is happy to be pissed off. Lacking that, he would have to find creative ways to complain. The bitchy wife does not secretly want a better husband. Even that secret wish, if she had it, would merely be a fantasy to enhance the feeling of discontent which is so dear to her. Wedded to a perfect husband and she would quickly divorce in horror. Therefore we all need enemies to pour unto them the emotions we would spare our friends. And it does the enemies good too for us to fulfill that service.

                Therefore, the bizarre warning that we ought to be careful for what we wish for, which is such a strong theme in children’s stories, strikes me as missing the point. We wish for something so that we won’t get it. If we desired it, we wouldn’t wish or pray, but grasp and take. We wish merely to feel frustration. Just as the Greeks watched tragedies so they could feel the triumph of nobility even in his defeat, so we watch our movies and take in our myths to configure our character. We are all the novel's characters at once. Those characters become internalized, and symbolize sets of emotions, attitudes, and beliefs that all refer really to ourselves. By hating this person or that, by being racist or loving, we are hating and loving parts of ourselves, we are celebrating our own being. Allistically, I take all emotions as good, even the emotions that dislike the other emotions and make plans on changing them. They are all good, though we mature past some and grow into others.









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