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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Fear and Self-Loathing in East Sussex

Do you lean towards the tragic? Do you like reading obituaries of those whose careers faded or didn’t quite reach their assumed trajectory? Are the stories that get you the ones of missed chances, also-rans, noble failures? Those who died face down in the dirt having crawled on their belly toward an imagined light and expired in the effort.

Do you admire handsome heroes who ooze sex appeal and gym locker swagger? Or do you want to celebrate the less easy on the eye, the awkward, the strange, those for whom emotion isn’t a contrivance as calculated as a push-up bra or another media revelation of an apparently tough childhood.

Do you want to turn the radio off every morning when you move the dial to a serious channel and hear news of football transfers, sports corruption, film award politics, and the unquestioned truth that marriage is an international human right?

Do you long for a new song, a new cause to believe in; the march of those righteous in deed, not the self-righteous in word?

In literature and in song tragi-heroes have had their place: an inspiration that sometimes shined light into darkness. Tales of those who failed the conventional tests of belonging, or whose mortal flesh gave out. A quiet dignity amidst a world of indifference, integrity amidst bravado and bullshit.

There are those who leave little legacy, save what others strive to create for them. Remembering them is surely important. Not to celebrate the mundane for its own sake. Why mark a life of no consequence for others? But those whose efforts helped their fellow man yet lack recognition, they surely need to be noted. Were they happy in their apparently selfless acts? Perhaps that should be reward enough. But we all want to leave a mark, don’t we? Reproduction isn’t enough. It can be cruel in its indifference, violent in its self-interest.

Give something back, they say. What though have we taken? Our health does not last long, our loved ones may depart sooner than expected, our life chances might be hard won and yet slender. We have food in our bellies and a warm bed at night. We have no fear of losing that, perhaps. Yet inside the fears may multiply, the doubts about what we do, think, and feel. Trust can be betrayed, making us fearful of others.

I have been told to embrace fear, assess its origins and to catalogue its manifestations. Physical fear can be exciting – in part as a distraction from the mind’s absurdities. Exertion brings its emotional reward. Yet we have to live inside ourselves a lot of the time. Ultimately, we are alone. One day that may become a physical reality too. Now that is truly scary.


Pop Picker said...

So who are these great failures? Oh... and you need to listen to more Dion

Unknown said...

Late to this blog post but mightily impressed by it, Neil - certainly lots of food for thought...

And you have tapped into my greatest fear "...we are alone. One day that may become a physical reality too. Now that is truly scary." Scary to you and me both, mate! :-(

Neil Partrick said...

Many thanks Silvana. Wished i hadn't put it up there really. Nice to get another reply. Vals right about Dion.