Filed under: Mental health, Recovery | Tags: fear, Howard Davies, LSE, meaning, nothing
I have a habit it would seem of proposing elaborate ideals whilst remaining incapable of adopting them in my own life. Last week I concluded with the following suggestion:
But if we live within our fears rather than attack them what other ways of being can we discover?
A question I believe in wholeheartedly. But on reflection how precisely does one live within their fears? Particularly when we live in a culture in which fear is regarded as a characteristic of the weak. To be defeated by ones fears is to give up. Fears must be faced, challenged and if we do not that is our choice.
To live within fears is an alternative to the instant erasure of fears by whatever means whether it is CBT or medication or some form of addiction. To live within fears, the idea I was hinting toward, is an exploration of fears. An exploration of its dimensions that does not seek only for its cause, but begins to unravels the multiple dimensions, ambiguity, the irrationality of fear that has no simple causality, no simple road to recovery.
But in this exploration we are left blind. No language in which to comprehend an illogical outburst of emotion, no rationality that will settle uncontrollable nerves. To live within our fears is not to attempt to counter the irrational with reason, but to embrace the irrational and understand it on its own terms. This is a markedly different approach, for it will involve delving in a great deal of meaninglessness. We are predisposed in many respects to understand and interpret what appears meaningless, which can enable us to feel we can conquer and control things. This makes us feel better, makes us feel significant. But how can we, as I suggested, embrace meaninglessness?
A hideous realization dawned on me as I considered what I would learn if I navigated through my own fears. I had perhaps optimistically hoped this would lead to freedom, or something closer to freedom. And yet I was suddenly struck by the paralyzing idea that what if by living within my fears I uncover only that there was not freedom, but nothing? I wondered whether the walls my fears created was to protect not my access to freedom, but the nothingness – the meaninglessness – that lay beyond. I wondered whether my irrational fears were just a sign I had reached my limits and despite my hopes for further progress, beyond this point only the nothingness of my personality existed.
In defence of exploring fears I questioned what do we lose?, what do we lose by the enforced requirement to overcome, attack and destroy our fears?
I think we risk losing a depth to our experiences, we lose the richness, the vibrancy, the beauty. And yet the avoidance of, or the smothering over of the uncomfortable means we also miss the pain, the mundanity, the continuing sense of inadequacy, the meaninglessness of it all.
Essentially if we explore our fears, attempt to live within them, we risk losing meaning. Or at least the meaning we possessed before. And if we do not either reclaim our original meaning or construct a new one we remain in this limbo of the incomprehensible.
And so now I ask is it worth it?
Is not contentment better than happiness after all? Is predictable sameness not better than the highs and lows? Is it not better to remain resilient and not come undone over and over again? Is not this half-existence better than the risk of ending up with nothing?
What really lies beyond, and do I have the courage to find out?
*IN OTHER NEWS: Howard Davies has resigned from the LSE, which has allowed me to feel less bad about the fact I called him a bellend a few weeks ago. His resignation has highlighted the ties LSE has/had with Libya, and the exchange of money and involvement of LSE and other university academics with North African politics. This is coming as a surprise to many people, yet for those within academia, I am sure most are aware of the fact of these numerous ‘donations’ and how academia is very much entwined with business and government.
Watching the documentary ‘Inside Job’ again reiterates the close relationship between academia and big business and of course there are many objectionable things about not only Howard Davies involvement but the extent to which such dealings take place (and I suspect that penetrate far and wide). Though is not the concept of clean money perhaps a bit naive? Some people are simply greedy, even academics that for some reason are depicted as objective or outside politics which is simply ridiculous, especially economists and politics professors. And lets not forget, academia with all its research assessment exercises, its competitveness, and struggle to obtain funding for research projects is a tough environment to work in, and if you have some rich overseas friends, regardless of their political orientations (which yes is quite a clumsy description for members of a corrupt, oppressive dictatorship), those with less ‘moral’ standing may give in to the allure.
I wonder therefore whether in some cases the means justify the ends? Some of the money donated from Saif Gaddafi for example funded a North African research programme. This does not appear a necessarily evil pursuit, but a productive and beneficial investment. More money surely went into creating the new academic building and the high tech lecture theatres, within which great lectures are given by great speakers. Moreover LSE is an institution which is home to many great academics, ones that worked hard to get where there are. It is also a place that does not only take on wealthy students (though there are many) but accepts those from less privileged backgrounds, people that did their undergraduate degree in the very un-prestigous Derby for example.
However I am certainly not in support of this continual corruption and dodgy dealings within academia with a regime as horrific as Libya. What worries me is that if these donations become monitored to the point money ceases to come in, the ones that will again bear the brunt are students, via higher tuition fees, poor facilities and poor teaching.
The money has to come from somewhere and I sure don’t think it is going to come from our delightful government or from the tax payer. It is times like these I both feel concern for academia, an institution which I believe still upholds certain principles of integrity, but also a sense of disappointment. And these unsurprising revelations only compound my current questioning of whether this is a life I want to enter into, and reinforce my desire to escape academia perhaps forever. But more on that next time.
1 Comment so far
Leave a comment