Feels great to have the time and the mental inclination to write about something, doesn’t it? Well… I wanted to write
about something, anything but had no idea what to write about. I got the clogs into motion and racked my grey matter but
no bulbs went on. Looked around for some were the names of some books which were actually, some of my most favorite books.
One of them was The Outsider, a book by Albert Camus. And suddenly, I had the one thing I have always wanted to write
about but never thought myself capable enough for the job. Inspiration manifests itself in subtle ways, doesn’t it?So, here ladies and gentlemen, for the first time in 21 years of Existence (and what an Existence it has been!!!), am
gonna write about Existentialism – a stream of philosophical thought that, I feel, has not yet been completely understood
and perhaps never will be. I myself am not sure if I have the authority to discuss the philosophy. I guess, I merely have
a shadow of understanding of the entire idea. And this is what I dare to share. Bouquets, am not expectant of. Brickbats,
most welcome!!!Existentialism as an idea, was developed by the French Revolutionary (and many other things, later), Jean Paul Sartre. The
idea as a whole is very attractive and motivating but is largely misunderstood and looked down upon. Some philosophers
have even called it another form of Nihilism which in itself is negative. Let’s see what u guys out here think.And please don’t think I am gonna bug u with philosophy ‘coz I myself think philosophy is boring. Nah… am just gonna
present an idea. And all I ask is for u folks to be my worst critics.Well…let’s start off with a story. Story-telling is always interesting, mutually. So there’s this guy called Sisyphus
(funny name, huh? ) who’s been condemned to rolling a stone up a mountain by the gods (don’t ask me why. Have no idea.).
Now, the messed up part is, Sisyphus knows perfectly well that the stone is gonna roll down, falling back on its own
weight. But still, Sisyphus goes on doing the same monotonous job day after day.And today we hop jobs like crazy coz we are not excited enough about them. Sisyphus would have committed suicide had he
been a man of this time and age and seen us like this. But we are not bothered about Sisyphus committing suicide. We gotta
bother about why Sisyphus did what he did.Man is born and dies, right? Like everything else. Let’s call birth, an Accident and death, an Event. So… man has no
control over these two things, right? Agree? What’s man got control over then? His destiny. The period between the
Accident and the Event. Do I sense difference of opinion here? I don’t care!!!I like this scene from the movie The Matrix. This happens when Morpheus first meets Neo. After the preliminary hi-helloes,
Morpheus asks Neo a question. The dialogue follows:Morpheus: Do you believe in fate Neo?Neo: No.Morpheus: Why not?Neo: Because I don't like the idea that I'm not in control of my life.And The Matrix went on to become the hugh-est blockbuster of 1999 (and of a coupla years after that) and we all love Neo.
Incidentally, most young folks in the US liked this conversation the most. Doesn’t prove anything, of course, but I kinda
like that idea.Anyway, back to the Accident-Event crap. Now, I say, man has total control over his destiny. Implies, he has total control
over what he does and what he becomes. This is what Sartre said. The process of living is actually becoming. Man is a
being at birth. He is something at death. And during the transition from birth to death, he becomes something every
moment. Each and every single moment of his life. And what he becomes is what he chooses to become.Now, here comes the concept of control. Man controls what he becomes. If I choose to be a murderer or a rapist today, all
I need is a gun or my you-know-what and the motive. Alternatively, should I choose to be a writer or a saint, all I need
is a pen or the ability to preach and the motive. So, what stays common in both the cases (or in all of them) is the
motive which is voluntary. A conscious thought that leads to action. This is what Sartre said. Even a murder or a rape is
justified. Coz the action is the action. There’s no denying it, right?And this is where Sartre made enemies coz people failed to understand what he was talking about and branded him a negative
man with negative ideas. No one bothered to listen to what else he had to say.Sartre said that all action was justified but each man was solely responsible for his own action and stood to pay for it.
This was the part most people missed. Critics love criticizing and in the pursuit, they overlook some very important
stuff. Not that it mattered to Sartre. I believe, nothing could ever affect the man. Anyway, Sartre’s philosophy even
extended to God. He said that man always blamed god for his fate. Why did he do that? No one is allowed to blame anyone
else for one’s own actions. You stand responsible in all ways possible for your actions and blaming people or
circumstances is-what Sartre called-bad faith. It was bad-faith when people started the blame-game.“I could not become an Engineer because my Dad wanted me to study Medicine”. Bull-shit!!!You could always have rebelled. And you could always have studied medicine. Your Dad never forced you. You think he did
but he didn’t. No man can force another man for anything. Man is free from the moment he’s born. And what you choose to do
is your own decision. Your dad might have forced you physically (a good thrash-session, perhaps!!!) or even mentally
(“Engineering mein kya rakha hai? Doctory hamare khaandaan ka pesha hai aur tumko bhi Doctor ban na hi padega. Yeh mera
hukum hai!!!”) but you always had the choice of rebellion. You always had the choice to become what you wanted to become
and you became what you wanted to become. No one and Sartre says, absolutely no one, forced you. But since man is
ambitious and eternally insatiable by nature, you don’t like what you have become and you wanna become something else.
Which is good coz that leads you to re-inventing yourself.If you try Engineering now, you might become a successful engineer. Who knows? But stop blaming people and circumstances.
People blame society for what they achieve (or don’t achieve) in life but fail to realize that if everyone in the same
situation did what they did, this world would be full of murderers and rapists or saints and priests.So, what then is God for? Why doesn’t he guide us? Sartre said, “God is what man isn’t, wants to become and will never
become.” Ponder over this folks, coz this is the truth. Isn’t God an embodiment of what man wants to be- everything
positive and good and true? He is, right? And god guides us every single moment but we fail to be guided by him. God is
conscience and there is no greater god. (Sartre had to go through a really bad phase for propounding this. He got on the
bad side of the Church which propounds that God is everything and controls everything, including destinies.)Back to the fundamental question now. Why do we live? Why are we supposed to control our destinies if life is meaningless?
Enter Albert Camus, a close friend of Sartre and a French Revolutionary as well, who gave us the answers. Camus said life
is meaningless and there’s no logic to it but we must live to become what we are not. Man suffers because he tries to take
an illogical world to its logical end. IMPOSSIBLE!!! We are in constant pursuit of happiness and happiness is one thing
that eludes us. Why? Coz man has different definitions of happiness at different points of time in his life. Each sane or
insane man has his own definition of happiness and these definitions change with time for each human being. At 4,
Happiness is when your Dad gets you the newest “Hot Wheels” out. At 12, Happiness is to get the new “dream-PC”. At16,
Happiness is to know that the hottest babe/guy in your class has got the hots for you (that is some happiness!!!). At 28,
Happiness is to marry the same babe/guy after twelve years of courtship. At 50, Happiness is to have made it “this” far in
the journey of life.Am sure, most of you would have got what I am trying to say here. Man is never happy coz he always wants more. That is not
greed, that’s human nature. So, Camus (incidentally, Albert Camus wrote the Sisyphus book) said that we gotta imagine
Sisyphus happy. Sounds weird, but that is what we must imagine to be happy ourselves. Life’s a struggle, a meaningless one
and we must try to find meaning outta it. All we must do is be clones of Sisyphus and do what we must. Or in other words,
what we enjoy doing. Sisyphus must have enjoyed what he did.What is death then? Sartre said, “Death is an always possible possibility to end all possibilities that are always
possible.” Sartre, I tell you, was crazy. Took me three days to get the entire meaning of the line when I first read it.
Guys, its not rocket science. Trust me (that makes me an idiot, then). Just read the line carefully and you will get the
meaning. Death puts an end to all possible things which are always possible by man and death might come anytime. Got it? I
am sure you didn’t. But this translucence is what makes Existentialism interesting. It absorbs you. It makes u defy god.
It makes u all powerful and it makes u all responsible. So, man finally becomes what he is. Man, after all!!!Ah… before I stop abusing the keyboard anymore, ONE LAST PIECE OF INTERESTING INFO. Sartre is the only person who refused
to accept the Nobel Prize. He was awarded the prize for Literature in 1964. He declined not because he wanted to prove to
everyone how different he was but because he didn’t want people to brand him as a writer or a philosopher. He didn’t want
to be-what he called-“institutionalized”. He believed that he was many things, first a human and not just a writer. Takes
real conviction to decline the Nobel. If u have understood Existentialism even the tiniest bit, then u have not even begun
to fathom Sartre’s psyche. Right now, is the time for me to get a replacement and for you folks to get a cuppa coffee or
Waiting for your “critical” comments. S’long!!!