Friday, July 9, 2010

What others were feeling like today #16

1938

'He has found a purpose in life for himself in his children'. So that they in turn may find the same in theirs? But what point is there in this endless procreation? We care so little about other people that even Christianity urges us to do good for the love of God. Man prefers to punch his fellow man in the mouth, and is such a fool that to give himself an object in life he has to produce a son.


I like this one a lot. Pavese manages to get such a wealth of ideas into a few lines of writing. I haven't been able to find out where the quote he opens with comes from, but while googling the phrase I learned that Usher, that most anodyne of popstars, said much the same thing a couple of weeks ago. Attributing all your 'purpose' in life to your children is a dangerous thing to do, as I see it. Surely it can only mean that you've given up on finding any meaning in your own life and are now only seeking to do so vicariously through your children. Or is it just something vapid that people say? If merely producing humans to produce humans to produce humans ad infinitum is our 'purpose' in life then it is really no purpose at all. I very much hope to have children some day but I'd like to think that even without them my life might have some purpose, and that if I do have them I won't subscribe wholeheartedly to the cult of the child.

Extract taken, as always, from The Assassin's Cloak.

12 comment(s):

KFS said...

I have one of them yolks, nine months old she is. Not for a moment have I been given any reason to believe that she is anything other than her own wee person, so I still have to live my own life as she has full ownership of hers.
I still have to deal with the shitty nappies though.

emordino said...

Iteration. Better child raises better child raises better child, until eventually someone produces Batman. That, and biological imperative.

And also plus why is writing a novel or climbing a mountain or building a school or talking to friends more inherently purposeful than raising a child? We're all dust either way.

(This has I suppose been Colm's Friday Existentialism Bomb. Boom, baby!)

Andrew said...

KFS - Yeah, but when you're ninety she'll be changing yours. Elton John would never have gotten so enthused by the Circle of Life if he had kids.

Colm - Depends on the novel and the mountain, I suppose. If we're talking Da Vinci Code and The Sugarloaf then it's rugrats all the way for me.

Jo said...

What emordino said, exactly.

I did always think that one of the most productive things you could do was raise your children to be the best people youcould, and if we all did that then we might save the world - but then I actually had children and fucked it all up. Sigh.

Andrew said...

Jo - I doubt you've fucked it up half as much as you think, and time is definitely still on your side. But I kinda think we're born broken anyway, and that our parents' job is merely to minimise the fucked-upness we inherently possess.

Tessa said...

Having reared one to the point where he is no longer a danger to himself or others, I think I can claim some expertise in this area. Harrumph. And all I can say is, as soon as you civilize them to the point where you can actually live with the little buggers, they leave home and expend all those good manners on someone else. So, you're right Andrew. Better not cod yourself into thinking kids are your sole purpose in life. All you have to remember is, be nice to 'em. They'll be choosing your nursing home one day.

MJ said...

Are you guys hitched yet?

Andrew said...

Tessa - And all I can say is, as soon as you civilize them to the point where you can actually live with the little buggers, they leave home and expend all those good manners on someone else.

A perfect summation, from what I can see. It's certainly what I've done.

MJ - This time two weeks we'll be catching our breath on the day between our actual wedding and the more public celebration of it with friends and extended family. Two short, short weeks.

Janelle said...

gem of a blog. been guffawing at the tanzanian chumps...i live here, you see. bloody excellent blog, man. hongera sana! going back for more. x j oh. ps: found you at periodic englishman.

Andrew said...

Asante sana, Janelle. I think you might be my first reader in Tanzania. I lived in Arusha, very briefly (near Usa river),but spent three years in Dodoma. I look forward to delving into your blog.

陳登陽 said...

Prevention is better than cure...................................................

Conan Drumm said...

All the best to yourself and to your delightful intended, Andrew. Too much to ask you to blog the speeches, I suppose? Yeah, thought as much. Have a great day, and a very happily lived life together ever after.