Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Resentment of Existence

Nancy says, emphatically, "Evil is the hatred of existence as such" (The Experience of Freedom, p. 128). As it happens existence is met with a plethora of attitudes and emotions. Most of them are ambiguous. Indifference is ambiguous (I could say "ambivalent" to tip the scales). Emotionlessness may be a kind of banality, make of banality what you will.

I'm curious about, teased by, fine shades of malice. Would the contempt of existence be more or less evil than the loathing of existence? Contempt may be more bourgeois, for what it's worth.

Resentment (I'll mention "ressentiment" out of fondness for the Gaulish tongue) may be a bourgeois feeling, but the word itself has been a polyphiboly ampolyboly. I enjoyed delicious resentments at your party (the lamb kabobs, etc.), for which I thoroughly resent you. How did a word meaning "to feel deeply or sharply" come to overwhelmingly mean "to feel oneself injured or insulted"? What sadness and pain accretes to the joys we've shared? Does recent European history tell of the proliferation of inferiorities or of injuries? Well, there's only so much the history of a single word can tell us. Can "resentment" tell us that evil begins with the feeling of existence as such? That evil is neither simply pain or hatred, but the whole pithos of feeling? Can resentment tell us that? Nah.

But it's a strange thing to resent existence, no less so for its being ordinary. (Insert ontodicy here.) If we were completely at the mercy of our feelings it wouldn't make sense to speak of good and evil. An existence of pure feelings would be like early infancy, a time without memory, and yeah, innocent of evil and good. But I regress, which reminds that to yearn to be at the mercy of feelings can't be morally unambiguous.

Once we acknowledge that existence as such can be felt, perhaps even that it must be felt, then what is existence? Is its whatness a big impossible nada? Only if we're not attuned to our feelings. And yet the big nada hangs around with its friend passivity, and it looks like existence may be in with a bad crowd. Do I resent existence, or is it feeling I resent, pure feeling? Hmm, I'm just as sharply resentful of pure thought. The resentment of feeling as such can't be good, though it may have once seemed harmless enough. As it happens feeling is felt in a plethora of ways, most of them ambiguous.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 2:37 PM.


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