As soon as I fell pregnant, it seemed to me that all my neurons had packed their stuff and flipped me the bird. Not only was I getting fatter by the day, but stupider by the second.
I used to be able to read at least one book a week – and these were books that had a profound message. When I was pregnant, I was only able to scroll through pictures in the Daily Mail while praising myself for not reading the Sun. I saw myself opening books that I had loved and after a few pages closing them because they were too intellectual. As if that was ever a reason to stop reading a book… that you had already read!
Who is Schopenhauer?
In an attempt to convince myself that I was better than the masses and to inject a little joy into the midst of my misery, I re-read a philosophical book by Schopenhauer that is supposed to teach happiness.
If you do not know him, he was one of the most pessimistic and misanthropic philosophers to exist, and was also – on an entirely unnecessary side note – an unabashed and unconditional poodle lover.
Although it was written 150 years ago, his book remains extraordinarily modern. Indeed, his ferocious attacks on the lack of intellectual stimulation of his contemporaries could be perfectly applicable to our contemporaries obsessed with Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat LOL YOLO etc. If he were an observer of our modernity, his sincere disgust for humanity would rise to even higher levels – and he already thought the worst of his world back then.
It is not about being who we are, but rather about representation: we grab the attention of the Other so we can be defined by them. There is a paradox in this egocentricity; people believe that by asserting their Who to the world, they are imposing their Who. Alas, they are only allowing their virtual Who to be criticized and ridiculed. And if it is worshipped, surprisingly, it is never really them as them. The Who being shown is never the real Who, it is a role which has been defined by the Other in order to gain money and pseudo glory – and Schopenhauer’s disdain for representation has always been equal to his contempt for money.
Schopenhauer, who served as an inspiration for Nietzsche and Freud, defined our role as human beings in society to be who you are, what you own and what you represent. Clearly today, even as there is a temptation to showcase who we are on a daily basis via social media or reality TV shows, what is being shown has never been further from the truth.
If Schopenhauer were alive
Ah ah! How can I not create an easy anachronism and picture Schopenhauer watching the Kardashians vomiting their vacuousness while bathing in excessive wealth, foolishly believing that they still have a genuine Who because their Madame of a mother said that they did.
There is no doubt that this family embodies everything that Schopenhauer regards with extreme aversion – perhaps that is the purpose of their existence: to be living examples of what Schopenhauer detested in humanity … and the perfect entertainment for brain-dead people like me when I was pregnant!