Friday, 2 March 2018

Perils of freedom

Sneak out the back...
Make a new plan...
No need to be coy...
     After my YouTube video Metaphysical Journal: life and death yesterday — my first video in over a year — thinking about what I'd said, 'I just want to set myself free,' the words of Paul Simon's hit song came to me.
     I was wondering what I would say to that unnamed academic watching the patch of sunlight creep along the wall. 'Walk out, and never come back.'
     You don't need this!
     Start again, start a new life...
     But that's exactly what you did, Jerry. They found your body in a wooden hut in a forest outside Los Angeles...
     Escaping isn't enough. You need a good plan. 'I'm just going to sit here for a while and think about it,' isn't enough. Ian, you couldn't see any way out even though it was right in front of you. You were too clever for your own good, you saw through Jerry's easy non-escape.
     Of course, this is all wrong, because I'm talking about this as if it was just a matter of thinking or reasoning. You can't think or reason yourself out of depression. No, but if you have the wit to realize that you're seriously depressed, that any thoughts that come to you are distorted by your mental condition, not to be trusted, certainly not to be acted upon, then there are steps you can take.
     Steps to get help.
     And this is my case against philosophy. Being a professional philosopher is a permanently distorting 'mental condition'. You come to believe that whatever the fix the power of reason alone can get you out of this, somehow. And if you can't see a way, that's down to your weakness, your incapacity as a thinker.
     So wrong.
     Then again, I can't talk, because I've never taken that fateful step of going for help, never needed to. And I know the icy, deceptive tentacles of depression well enough. But I seem to have an in-built tendency to bounce back. My best quality isn't intelligence — I'm certainly no genius — but more like an animal-like resourcefulness. When backed against a wall, I've always somehow found a way to escape.
     Resourcefulness, and maybe more than a small does of egotism. We're all different, right?
     Look, I could tell you stories that would make your hair curl...
As I gird on my armour, squinting in the sunlight, I feel a sense of lightness, the slightest nudge and I would begin to float. I am floating. Bathed in warmth, waiting to be born. Indeed! The weight of years is falling away — at long last. The harsh twine around my wrists and ankles has withered away, the soreness almost healed. The memories are less painful than they were. A dull ache, the occasional pang. The incidents in my oddly uneventful life are laid out as in a comic strip — no lurid colours, just tasteful shades of grey.
(Hedgehog Philosopher Day 41)
     'Oddly uneventful,' well that all depends on your perspective, right?
     (I like the bit about 'tasteful shades of grey'. So true.)
     That's what freedom means to me. I've never found better words, not needed to. Certainly, armour is a necessity. I may be baring my soul, but it's still protected by bullet-proof glass. Try as you might, you can't hurt me!
I've been made to feel guilty — by crippled manipulators who could find no other way to make up for their own inadequacy; by bombastic pedants and critics with hypertrophied moral consciences — but my conscience is clear.
(ibid.)
     — So much for 'the others'.
     Don't listen to them.
     Don't let their self-serving, asinine opinions control you.
     Your cowardly diffidence, the tugs of 'conscience' are just wheels in your head...

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