Tag Archives: death

Nostalgia in terms of Being and Becoming

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(Bad picture of the Coliseum in Rome, “the Eternal City”)

Note: This post is a response to my other post Goodbye Nostalgia

After one month of insouciant summer days in Montreal I came back to Toronto, speeding at 100km/h in the highway by bus to the city I always eventually return to where my feet meet cold hard concrete. Every time I am banished from lofty idylls I feel an incredible nostalgia for days of eternal youth, where the daily rhythms of life set in gently, hinting at the possibility of happiness.

Departure came (speeding at 100km/h in the highway by bus) and exiled from Paradise, I likened memory as being pieces of myself, torn and imprinted externally in cityspaces and friends (people who “demand a greater piece, torn from a deeper place, a slab of vital flesh”). Faced with the eventual loss of memory, I felt “full of holes [feeling] a nostalgia for wholeness.”

What I wanted was to remain eternally in the past, a past outside the tick tocking of time wherein I could exist with fixed, unchanging dimensions. What I wanted was the unchanging state of being, not the dynamic state of becoming.

Nietzsche speaks of this dichotomy in the Gay Science, 370:

“Every art, every philosophy may be viewed as a remedy and an aid in the service of growing and struggling life; they always presuppose suffering and sufferers. But there are two kinds of sufferers: first, those who suffer from the over-fullness of life and then those who suffer from the impoverishment of life … the question whether the desire to fix, to immortalize, the desire for being prompted creation, or the desire for destruction, for change, for future, for becoming.”

While his insights may not have a direct implication to my situation, being a way to analyze romanticism in art, there are parallels that are fruitful and good to think with.

Being and Becoming. By desiring this idyllic past, while disregarding the future, all I did wish was an eternal fixation into these idylls, a product of my imaginations and reimaginations with perhaps no direct basis in reality. All I wanted was to keep dreaming these illusionary reveries repeating ceaselessly, put to a gentle sleep surrounded by white soft beddings and white cotton pillows. Possessed by an unending somnolence, as the boundaries between wake and sleep blur and reality is consumed by twilight, all that would remain is death* a permanent state of Being if there was one.

Life while I am alive is in movement towards Becoming, as the future opens up moment by moment in transformation and destruction before my eyes. While blissful deathly sleep of the past may tempt me in all its romantic sentimentality, standing before an endless blood red poppy field I cannot indulge in its deathly aromas.

As Nietzsche says:

“He that is richest in the fullness of life, the Dionysian god and man, cannot only afford the sight of the terrible and questionable but even the terrible deed and any luxury of destruction, decomposition, and negation. In his case, what is evil, absurd, and ugly seems, as it were, permissible, owing to an an excess of procreating, fertilizing energies that can still turn any desert into lush farmland. Conversely, those who suffer most and are poorest in life would need above all mildness, peacefulness, and goodness in thought as well as deed …”

Narcissus chose to die beautiful and young and in perfection, immortalized in beauty. I would like to explore the future beyond this first innocence with a resounding Yes to life.

 

 

*not in the same way I mentioned in the previous post

Adieu Montreal

(Wrote June 13)

Il y aura bientôt, une mort. Une autre mort de moi- même. Dans une semaine, je vais partir de Montréal, et mon séjour ici finira. On peut dire que ce n’est pas grand-chose, puisque ne suis Torontois, et le voyage de Toronto à Montréal a besoin de peu de temps pour s’y rendre. Cependant il s’agit d’une mort quand même, un adieu éternel à mes expériences, à mes amis, et à toutes les petites et grandes chose auxquelles je m’habituais à Montreal à 24 ans.

La mémoire est quelque chose non-fiable, capricieuse et inconstante. Elle se souvient seulement de ce qui lui plaite, soit c’est des souvenirs heureux soit c’est des souvenirs pénibles. Pourtant même les souvenirs que la mémoire nous raconte ne sont pas fiables. À travers du brouillard d’oubli, ce n’est pas la vérité qui nous affronte, mais un passé difforme qui est toujours en muance. C’est un passé séduisant et infidèle, mais le brouillard s’épaissit et rend le passé introuvable, jusqu’à la disparition complète.

Le présent, si plein, si beau, se glisse doucement en s’éloignant, en se dissipant en morceaux insaisissables, comme le sable fin qui glisse tranquillement des mains.

(Wrote in June 17)

One by one we leave, we vanish, until I remain in a bustling city left only with the reverberations of the past, full of spectres who float around visible only to me. The world outside races on but I am left in the world of my memories, a world disintegrating.

Un adieu, un au revoir. It is a death that awaits the end of these adieus. I wait timidly, uncertain of what to express in the face of an approaching inevitability. What kind of adieu can pay homage to this death?

Every rencontre is a piece of myself left behind. And now the pieces are spread far and wide, a puzzle impossible to fit together and remake whole. I feel within a longing for fullness, a nostalgic cry that goes echoing on unanswered.

Adieu

Au revoir

Death

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When we are younger, death is never on the mind. We may catch glimpses of it from time to time, but just as the coming and going of a rainbow after a sunny afternoon storm, it fades into irrelevance both in the physical world and in our minds. In our twenties, why worry about such a thing? We are young and still blessed with bountiful energy. A peek into the mirror will show a healthy looking individual at the peak of his mortal life and the ability to realize a personal ambition onto the world. Time is still on our side and visions of the future are eagerly described with the air of a tingling excitement. When we walk on the streets in the city center, the passing images of a previous generation make an imprint on the mind, but there is almost a fundamental inability to connect these appearances with a prophecy of the future. A quick glance in the mirror deters such notions.

As time passes, so does our perception of reality. Confrontations with death become increasingly frequent and just like a natural erosion of rocky surfaces by rainwater, the idea of death is gradually uncovered with each instance. The reflection which once reassured us of longevity assures us of inevitability, as wrinkles and the accumulations of the microcosms of death stare at us. What once seemed as fleeting as the rainbow now takes on a different form, as the apparition of death fills into a physical form and details of its features are gradually outlined. The past is remembered with the longing sigh of nostalgia and the world appears to us as being grandiose and immovable. Sitting in the subway we start to relate with the faces of the once previous generation. Notions form that Time is not on our side, but has instead withdrawn Its welcomed friendship. It now makes its appearance as an unwanted guest who inconspicuously detracts from the merriment of a party. We may look towards the clock for the leave of Time, but It increasingly makes its subtle presence known and spreads discontentment and anxiety. The culmination of anxiety stemming from Time eventually arrives in the form of the most unwelcome guest, Death, as all our fears towards It are heightened tenfold with the abrupt and piercing shrill of the doorbell.

When It arrives, can you feel Its ubiquitous presence? Can you feel Its existence, which is lonelier than being the last man on Earth, containing a profundity deeper than the deepest tunnels, darker than the darkest shade of black? Can you feel the mystery of Its existence, in which at the moment of its occurrence comes the evaporation of life for the deliverance of the soul past all notions of the physical plane and time?

Aldous Huxley, English writer of the 1900s, wrote two novels about two completely contrasting versions of society. He wrote the Brave New World in 1932 and the Island thirty years later. Despite the different natures of the societies, one which is totalitarian and the other, utopian, there is one point of similarity among these societies. From an early age, children are raised to accept death. There is no mysticism towards the concept of death. It is accepted to be the most organic of happenings and inescapably bound with life. There is the sense that life and death are not contrasting ideas like the poles of a magnet, but instead are the heads and tails on the coin of existence.

In our modern world, we are adept at subjecting the natural world to our command. With further advancements we are able to escape the organic unpredictability of the natural environment for an anticipatable artificial atmosphere. Death is no exception. With certain medical and scientific discoveries we are to delay nature’s last affirmation of existence but are unable to completely eliminate it. Traditional tests put out by nature to test our mettle in her world served as reminders of the connection between life and death, but such reminders have disappeared. Instead of living in a blissful opiatic state, unaware of eventual realities, it is better to wake up from our fantastical slumber to accept Death in a holistic way. With this attitude, Time may continue to serve as a welcome friend and the ringing of the doorbell signaling the long expected arrival of Death can be received with sincere acceptance.