I have started fasting. I have not eaten for 43 hours. I have 29 hours left (probably longer when I finish this). I burped before and a small amount of stomach acid entered my mouth. It tasted vile. I found it strange that something like that exists in my stomach. Do you remember the film Who framed Roger Rabbit? They would kill cartoon characters by putting them in an acidy substance called ‘dip’. I think I have that in my stomach? Anyway, I was on a bike ride yesterday. I was talking about fasting. I suddenly had the thought that we, as a society, are having a ‘fast’ from the constructed society we live in. Both, I believe, are truly beneficial. Similar to how the body cleanses dead cells during a fast, I wonder if we are cleansing dying or dead ideals about ourselves, about others; or about how society functions?
I was in the shower several days ago. I was listening to Philosophize this! on YouTube. I remember they were talking about Nietzsche or Kant’s idea of being empty. It discussed, that if you take up the hobby of swimming... and you become engrossed in the activity, and then, for some reason, you can no longer swim and you begin to feel empty because of its absence; the idea suggested that you were empty to begin with and the activity of swimming was masking this emptiness. This is more evident during this current time. I do ponder, that while we have been distracted by the machine of society, which is presented under the title of life, we have not had the opportunity, since a child, to stop an asses who we actually are, as we are pursued, reminded and encouraged that we must succeed and do something with ourselves. Usually, something useful...
We have been out of our routines for a short while and I suspect many may feel useless as their role has been removed. This can create an array of self destructive thoughts when considering your purpose as an individual or contributor to society. Chuang Tzu, in his book, The Tao of nature, alludes to this issue, but not in such a direct proposal. A discussion is taking place between him and a farmer. The farmer is concerned about a distorted tree that sits upon his land. The farmer is frustrated by its mangled shape as it cannot be used to create various objects. Chuang Tzu alludes to idea that when something has a use, it eventually becomes useless. If the tree was made into a chair it would break and become useless. If the tree was made into a boat it would eventually sink, thus becoming useless. I believe Chuang Tzu is stating that when we stray from our original purpose, we are changed beyond our recognition that we can no longer rely on our original state to give us purpose or content when the latter is removed.
This period of ‘societal fasting’ is an opportunity to understand ourselves in more depth and make decisions on how we spend the time we have left once we are ‘free’ again. I suspect a proportion of society will distract oneself from such existential conundrums and delve towards distracting habits and return to normal. However, a certain few will have understood that if something consumes you to the point of your original essence becoming lost, rendering you useless if removed, then whatever it was, should not be allowed to do so again. There is no formula to live and be content. With that said, there are many things that mask emptiness and allude to a fulfilled live. I would look at them as empty calories. You must continue to consume those empty calories to sustain your continuous hunger levels that are never truly quenched. We can prevail from those feasts appearing to be aesthetically grandiose, but it’s all a mirage that entices other wanders to keep on wandering in the desert in search for the dream of success. If success was quantified by how many eggs an individual could place up their rectum, the poor industrialised chickens could not meet societies demand.
Amongst the chaos, death and the inevitable collapse of a bogus economy, this is a beautiful opportunity to asses and really think about what we are truly conceptually consuming and adhering towards.
Who are you? Who am I?
By Stephen Sheehan