QoTD: Tragedy of Modern Man

 

The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less. –Vaclav Havel

We are born with a blank slate of experience, just ready to be filled with wisdom and knowledge. As we grow, we might assume that the world is made up of external experiences; people who think that way are formed by what they see and the things they do. Life can be dull or filled with accomplishments, and they identify themselves with the material world.

But some of us are passionate about learning about ourselves and those people in our lives. We try to “make meaning” of the world, our community, our relationships and our faith. It is that melding of reflections on life that makes our lives colorful and rewarding.

That kind of reflection can become important to us later in life. We discover meaning in deep commitments to others and to our faiths. Life becomes a series of sharing with and giving to others.

The most tragic lives, however, are the people who not only assume that the material world is all there is, but are not moved to go deeper, investigate their roles in the world and how they can best contribute. Underneath the personae they project are emptiness and a kind of hopelessness.

Life offers so much, much more. But some people will never realize that truth.

 

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    When I saw this quotation, I couldn’t help thinking about BLM and Antifa, who think that life is about destruction and violence; people are inconveniences to ignore or remove. It’s sad.

    • #1
  2. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    A significant factor in knowing what is going on now is knowing what has already happened. Which makes the total ignorance of history a mystery.

    • #2
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Percival (View Comment):

    A significant factor in knowing what is going on now is knowing what has already happened. Which makes the total ignorance of history a mystery.

    Ah, but is it a mystery, @percival? How convenient to use your power to create your own understanding of history that will then direct your steps forward. Those groups don’t value learning and applying their learning to making a better world. They’d rather make up the past and create the present from whole cloth. That gives them control of all of it, and they make sure everyone else learns and applies those same ideas. Sigh.

    • #3
  4. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    A significant factor in knowing what is going on now is knowing what has already happened. Which makes the total ignorance of history a mystery.

    Ah, but is it a mystery, percival? How convenient to use your power to create your own understanding of history that will then direct your steps forward. Those groups don’t value learning and applying their learning to making a better world. They’d rather make up the past and create the present from whole cloth. That gives them control of all of it, and they make sure everyone else learns and applies those same ideas. Sigh.

    So instead of introducing an imaginary word such as fnord (reference to The Illuminatus! Trilogy), they get the poor little chuckleheads so sensitive to micro-aggressions that they are unable to read classic history books without needing a safe space to retreat to. Thyucides is nothing but a dead, white European, when all is said and done.

    • #4
  5. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Susan Quinn:

    The most tragic lives, however, are the people who not only assume that the material world is all there is, but are not moved to go deeper, investigate their roles in the world and how they can best contribute. Underneath the personae they project are emptiness and a kind of hopelessness.

    Life offers so much, much more. But some people will never realize that truth.

    My wife and I were discussing someone we know recently. This person became depressed after her parents died within about a month of each other. She started going to a therapist and to a psychiatrist. She still continues to go, and does not seem to have made any progress, despite these visits. Her parents died more than twenty years ago now. Her life is empty. She knows it is empty. But she won’t do the things that will change that.


    This is the Quote of the Day. If you have a quotation that reflects on life, the universe, everything, or our current situation, why not sign up and share it as a Quote of the Day?

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Arahant (View Comment):
    Her parents died more than twenty years ago now. Her life is empty. She knows it is empty. But she won’t do the things that will change that.

    I’ve known a couple of people like that, and it’s so heartbreaking. They don’t realize they have choices about how to live. And I always wish I could do something to help. But sometimes, there’s nothing to do but watch.

    • #6
  7. Keith SF Inactive
    Keith SF
    @KeithSF

    Percival (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    A significant factor in knowing what is going on now is knowing what has already happened. Which makes the total ignorance of history a mystery.

    Ah, but is it a mystery, percival? How convenient to use your power to create your own understanding of history that will then direct your steps forward. Those groups don’t value learning and applying their learning to making a better world. They’d rather make up the past and create the present from whole cloth. That gives them control of all of it, and they make sure everyone else learns and applies those same ideas. Sigh.

    So instead of introducing an imaginary word such as fnord (reference to The Illuminatus! Trilogy), they get the poor little chuckleheads so sensitive to micro-aggressions that they are unable to read classic history books without needing a safe space to retreat to. Thyucides is nothing but a dead, white European, when all is said and done.

    Maybe slightly off-topic, but Theodore Dalrymple touched on this recently:

    https://lawliberty.org/against-history-as-nightmare/

    “Because resentment has certain sour satisfactions, it is one of the few emotions that can persist unabated for years….”

     

     

    • #7
  8. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Keith SF (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    A significant factor in knowing what is going on now is knowing what has already happened. Which makes the total ignorance of history a mystery.

    Ah, but is it a mystery, percival? How convenient to use your power to create your own understanding of history that will then direct your steps forward. Those groups don’t value learning and applying their learning to making a better world. They’d rather make up the past and create the present from whole cloth. That gives them control of all of it, and they make sure everyone else learns and applies those same ideas. Sigh.

    So instead of introducing an imaginary word such as fnord (reference to The Illuminatus! Trilogy), they get the poor little chuckleheads so sensitive to micro-aggressions that they are unable to read classic history books without needing a safe space to retreat to. Thyucides is nothing but a dead, white European, when all is said and done.

    Maybe slightly off-topic, but Theodore Dalrymple touched on this recently:

    https://lawliberty.org/against-history-as-nightmare/

    “Because resentment has certain sour satisfactions, it is one of the few emotions that can persist unabated for years….”

     

     

    That’s on point. On mine, anyway. Thanks for the link.

    • #8
  9. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    When I saw this quotation, I couldn’t help thinking about BLM and Antifa, who think that life is about destruction and violence; people are inconveniences to ignore or remove. It’s sad.

    Destruction is easier than creation.  The act of creating something requires skill – sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.  Destruction requires no skill whatsoever.  Just ask the bull in the china shop.

    • #9
  10. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    I watched 1984 (Richard Burton, John Hurt) the other night for the first time.  The character of O’Brien is fascinating, especially in that moment when he makes the offhand tacit admission that he too was once taken and broken by the state.  Other than the ugly, obvious (or damn well should be obvious by now) reality that when there is no truth or morality only power remains, there is the question about how people get so personally invested in meaninglessness.

    If you believe that ultimately nothing matters, why should you care what other people think about anything?  Yet, those who decide to shut off any connection to any possibility of transcendent meaning tend to be passionately hostile to people who have or seek that in their own lives.  Throwing Christians to the lions was for the crime of believing in something in particular instead of believing in nothing or everything or everything and nothing at the same time.  As long as there are people whose example threatens to reopen the whole question of meaning and truth, one cannot have a fully anesthetized mode of denial and despair.

    The weird zeal with which de Blasio went after synagogues, Newsome after churches and in Biden’s pledge to apply a legislative beatdown to nuns who won’t pay for birth control or abortions ought to be chilling.  The left correctly senses that it has become something that cannot be sustained if there is a whole lot of truth-seeking and meaning-loving going on out here.

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    I watched 1984 (Richard Burton, John Hurt) the other night for the first time. The character of O’Brien is fascinating, especially in that moment when he makes the offhand tacit admission that he too was once taken and broken by the state. Other than the ugly, obvious (or damn well should be obvious by now) reality that when there is no truth or morality only power remains, there is the question about how people get so personally invested in meaninglessness.

    If you believe that ultimately nothing matters, why should you care what other people think about anything? Yet, those who decide to shut off any connection to any possibility of transcendent meaning tend to be passionately hostile to people who have or seek that in their own lives. Throwing Christians to the lions was for the crime of believing in something in particular instead of believing in nothing or everything or everything and nothing at the same time. As long as there are people whose example threatens to reopen the whole question of meaning and truth, one cannot have a fully anesthetized mode of denial and despair.

    The weird zeal with which de Blasio went after synagogues, Newsome after churches and in Biden’s pledge to apply a legislative beatdown to nuns who won’t pay for birth control or abortions ought to be chilling. The left correctly senses that it has become something that cannot be sustained if there is a whole lot of truth-seeking and meaning-loving going on out here.

    All true, @oldbathos. I keep holding out hope that there is some kind of religious revival–that many will become so desperate and disillusioned that they reach out for something–and He’s waiting for them all.

    • #11
  12. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Stad (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    When I saw this quotation, I couldn’t help thinking about BLM and Antifa, who think that life is about destruction and violence; people are inconveniences to ignore or remove. It’s sad.

    Destruction is easier than creation. The act of creating something requires skill – sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Destruction requires no skill whatsoever. Just ask the bull in the china shop.

    There is some thought that goes into destruction. You’ve got to make sure that the statue you are pulling down doesn’t land on you. That would be embarrassing.

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Percival (View Comment):

    There is some thought that goes into destruction. You’ve got to make sure that the statue you are pulling down doesn’t land on you. That would be embarrassing.

     

    Yep. Very true. Although I might appreciate that result. . . 

    • #13
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