Sunday, June 04, 2006

sickness unto life: conclusion

 It is not a hitherto unknown field. Even in Malayalam there have been some phenomenal books on this subject. Dr. Raja Krishnan, K.P Appan and Iqbal are the pioneers in this field.

K.P Appan is investigating the relationship of sickness with men of genius. Dr. Iqbal’s study is on clinical researches. This essay never made use of those materials, as the essayist liked to have a fresh start. However minimal and naïve it is. Susan Sontag is the first to make use sickness as a metaphor. She along with Thomas Mann structured the background of this essay.

The genre of the book can be questioned as many genres sprang up in the course of discussion. Surely this essay betrays more of an aesthetic quality than ethical. Aesthetic is the better medium to discuss this subject, as there is no compulsion to pass judgment. But god is the ultimate column upon which this essay is based. He is the one who helps to win over death.
Now we are heeding to certain resolutions. We can lean back and sketch the journey we have done. This essay had a process of development whereby each phase bursts in to an internal antithesis that makes for further growth. Man is a mixture of life and death, silence and communication; it is that we said in the introductory section. We had almost everything along the journey: body, mind, history, biology, suffering, illness, death and life. Somewhere certain melancholic gaze hushed us. Somewhere we were reduced to mere nothingness. We met people with groans in their hearts. We the sky, which lost its splendor and twittering, birds. One man perplexed us with his extreme notion of suffering. We understand that the end result such extremism is suicide. He did do that. Is their truth in him?   

“Truth is to walk on peripheries,” wrote Heidegger. People who walk on peripheries behave unusually. So we suspend judgments, which is our ethics. They were the people edged out of our systems.

At one point we were co-travelers of Camus. What a genius he is! You might have noted his perpetuating spirit of revolution. Revolt is his shaft with which he harpoons human hearts. We were surprised to see that even this rebellious and nihilistic spirit thirsted for hope. He sanctions and argues for it: “if there is no hope, we must invent it”59. He provides balm to our exhausted spirit.

Our next co-traveler was Thomas Mann. It is with him that our essay became a story. He told us the story of sickness and death, but it was a disguise, actually he was telling the story of life and love. We need to bend our head before this genius that taught us that “death is lust not love, and for the sake of goodness and love, man shall let death have no sovereignty over his thoughts”.

Then we plunged into suffocating thoughts of sickness. This sections clearly lacked sufficient oxygen. On the way many great men saluted us, they were willing to speak with us. These habitators of underworld mocked our civilization of Neon bulb. Didn’t you feel shudder when they spoke about the immanent catastrophe that awaits human heart? Boudlair wrote for them:

“His reason quitted him,
The brightness of that sun
Put on a cloudy pall,
Primordial chaos rolled through that intelligence-
A living cell once, ordered and opulent,
Whose lighted halls had seen such feasting and paradise.
Then silence and darkness come
To keep house in him.
As in a closed cellar to which the key is lost.
So he lived on, the like of some masterless cure”.

Fortunately, they didn’t remain with us long. Yet they taught us some fierce lessons of humanity, which is caught up in the struggle of good and evil. Can you imagine that the book, which contains highest praise for God also contains highest will of devil: it is John Milton’s Paradise Lost where devil says in the zenith of egoism, “evil be thou my good”.62 Are we not like this book?

We resumed our journey, from the den of these bigots and destroyers of the self-keeping only reverence. Death was our next milieu. With the help of Heidegger we looked at it. Man is an ailing animal and this ailing is our process of death.

“ For each of us the world comes to an end on the day of our death. And it is true, with a particular truth, that the none of us knows the day or the our when the sun will goes out of our life, when the moon will cease to bathe hedge rows of our childhood, when all at once the stars will sink in to the immense darkness. He history of the world will be revealed in countless individual histories.”

So does death win? No, though somewhere we said it. But went on to disprove it. Death is very sensual, power and immensity. But the essay stands for life sickness and death shall not overpower man. Each of our tragedies should teach us to love life more. Death seems to be unforgivable only when we think about our individual histories, not when we think of our collective history. It goes on carrying life. These thoughts again shall not take our angst. Our relation to death is a love-hate. We still search a way to master it. We still speak o f people who are tormented to death. “Ah! God; what trances of torments does that man endure who is consumed with one unachieved revengeful desire. He sleeps with clenched hands; and wakes with his own bloody nails in his own bloody nails in his palms.”

We both reject and accept death. We reject it because it is lust. We accept it because it proves life. This essay derived the notion of life from death. Sickness is spiritual. Illness is a highly dignified human phenomenon. In spirit, then in disease, resides human dignity of man; and the genius of disease is more human than the genius of health.

We hailed life not forgetting death, but accepting it. Our approach was different. We traveled to life through sickness and death. We reached a point where we affirmed disease and death, as necessary route to knowledge, health, and life. There are two ways to life :one is regular, the other is bad, it leads through the death, and that is the way of genius. The essay avoided the regular and direct way and took the difficult way of sickness and death to reach life, the way of genius.

We ended our essay affirming life and love. The essay likes to have a prayer at the end. This prayer formulated by shillebeecx, with verses from scripture, is special to the essayist as it express man’s anguish, fear and sorrow that taints his existence. It doesn’t finish there, but waved new leaves of hope and trust in God. in whom our questions are answered.

Suresh


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