Monday, May 8, 2017

America's Existential President

ex·is·ten·tial·ism
ˌeɡzəˈsten(t)SHəˌlizəm/
noun
a philosophical theory or approach that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will.

phe·nom·e·nol·o·gy
fəˌnäməˈnäləjē/
noun [PHILOSOPHY]
the science of phenomena as distinct from that of the nature of being.
an approach that concentrates on the study of consciousness and the objects of direct experience.

When I was getting my degree in psychology from Western Washington University, I began to notice two things.

Of my fellow students there were some who went the existential path and others, fewer (and I was one) who went the phenomenological path. We were all similar, but with an important difference. Myself and my phenomenological friends were observers. The existentialists wanted to affect things, to put their imprint upon it. And this is important, if it pleased them. And they had many rationales for that. I was surprised they couldn't see it, no matter how much I (we) tried to explain that orientation to them.

My girlfriend and I lived together through our college years, and took many of the same classes. We studied together. We finished each other's sentences to an absurd degree that caused our professor one day in class to stop us and make us prove we were actually saying something. We were. He was stunned, because we were carrying on a conversation in paragraphs by using single words.

The first thing I noticed was that those who went the existential path, leaned toward a more hedonistic view of life. The second was, my girlfriend was heading down that path.

So what?

What I started to notice was those who took the existential path seemed to be using it to justify their doing whatever they wanted. They were the ones who were having affairs, who were stepping out on their significant others. The phenomenology students seemed to be more centered, more socially responsible (both groups were, but the latter seemed to put themselves forward as a primary element).

Once I started to notice that, I noticed how self oriented the existential people's arguments were. Sometimes to the point of invalidating their arguments. I liked hedonistic pursuits as much as they next person, I just wouldn't put my own desires or needs before that of others, if those others might suffer for my actions.

I wasn't seeing that in the existential crowd. They were simply narcissists of varying degrees. Yes, college is that time to be that way. To test limits, to experience the novel situation and environments. It is something however that you should resolve before you are into your mid twenties, or you twenties overall. It is not something we should be seeing in your 60s or 70s.

I should have seen it coming. I never went out on my girlfriend. But in the end, after we graduated college, after we moved back home into a house together, I discovered she was having an affair with a coworker. That ended our many year relationship. I took it hard and it literally nearly killed me over that next eighteen month period.

And yes, in the end, after it passed, after I survived it, I was much stronger for it. I just had never had a girlfriend (or wife) have an affair on me. Or for that matter, break up with me. I was thirty when this happened and I simply had no coping mechanisms to deal with that kind of thing. So I partied myself nearly to death. Slept around. Kind of went off the deep end.

I'm seeing now so much of all this in our current president. In my experience, this isn't a good thing. Because no one is as important, as that individual, to that individual. We are at the whim of what he wants, what pleases him. At our expense, because we simply do not count. Unless it affects him.

Obviously, this isn't true of all existentialists. But it certainly is true about Pres. Donald J. Trump. I also notice this in many Republicans. Though those who are beginning now to oppose him, simply aren't as much the narcissist as he is.

Since a stopped clock is always correct twice a day, every day of the week, 24/7/365, Pres. Trump will surely do some things that are good for us. It's inevitable. However, I do not expect great things to come of a Trump presidency. Far from it.

The concept of existentialism can be intoxicating
phenomenology to me, just seemed more mature, enlightened.
A coherent and educated individual, observing.

Allow me to leave you with this....Fascism.

No comments:

Post a Comment