Sunday, April 23, 2017

Tension

Humans, like all animals, are naturally relaxed when not in immediate danger.  But because there is no limit to the potential dangers we can create in our minds--or which our minds create in the face of the active resistance of some other part of our selves--continuous tension is not just possible, but in modern society almost ubiquitous.

Tensions arise from present fears and worries, from psychological conflicts, and as the residue of a systemic charge created in trauma which has never been denuded through awareness of its on-going potency.

And most of what most people strive for, every day, is the reduction of tension. In important respects, this is the ACTUAL intention behind nearly everything everyone does.  Obviously, people conform even when they would otherwise be disinclined to do so because of the fear of being rejected, which is painful, which is to say, creates emotional tension, which we process as painful.

But even serial killers, pedophiles, and monsters of other sorts ALSO seek to reduce tension.  It is simply the case that their particular maladies are so severe that only extremely anti-social means will allow to actually accomplish their goal.  I think of the killer in "The Lovely Bones" relaxing in his bathtub.  The tension he lived with daily, of the pain he could not see much less process, of the fear of being caught he was very much aware of, was gone for a brief moment.  That is why he did it.  The anger and rage had to be put out into the world and someone or something had to die.

I have said this before, but if we make this very obvious--but rarely made (actually, I don't think I am copying anyone, as I have not seen this claim made elsewhere that I can recall)--observation that tension and the means to reduce it fuel nearly everything everyone does, we can readily affirm that learning to reduce tension is a principle purpose in living. So much of what drives us would not drive us, would not be necessary, if we could simply DIRECTLY address the tension fueling our manias and ambitions.

And I suppose I could mention sex, but is sexual tension really the main one?  It does not seem so to me.  I felt sexual tension earlier today, but I made it go away.  This is not the root of the problem.  If it were Mick Jagger would have been the picture of mental health.  Sex is a part of tension overall, sometimes admittedly an important one, often a secondary or even absent one.

But what philosophers talk about the existential importance of physical and emotional tension, and the logically following importance of learning to release them?  None that I know of, although I am hardly a serious student of philosophy (although I'm also not ignorant, having read a lot of books, and listened to a lot of lectures).  Picture Sartre, sitting at his coffee table, high on meth, chain smoking, drinking glass after glass of wine, writing 10-15 pages or more across much of a fairly long life.  What if he had learned to enjoy the simple pleasures of pleasant days, the songs of birds, and the joy of being?  What if he were that exquisitely happy man in the corner, friend to the world?

I have felt nauseated by the world.  I can get this sentiment.  But I did not see any need to attach ontological status to it.  I knew it was not "life".  It was the relic of a disease I did not choose, and have long sought to tame and master.

Go sideways.  None of us live in true hierarchies.  We live in a giant cloud, where relationships and directions are what matter.

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