“There’s an ancient Greek story of a man who, to go down in history, he burned the acropolis temple. The sentence for such act was the prohibition to pronounce the name of this man by anyone, so that he could be forgotten.”
This is the main fear of every human being. Being forgot. Indeed, above all wishes, every man and women (consciously or unconsciously) wants to exist and being aware he/she is existing. Nobody is sure about his existence, so, to exorcize this doubt, he tries to reach every kind of evidences about his existence.
This is not a philosophical speculation, but an introduction to a concrete, deep and practical speech who everyone of us can notice (Willy- nilly) in every moment of his daily life.
To draw the attention, being remarkable, making efforts to don’t passing unnoticed, being remembered, being important for someone, having many friends, greeting our parents and friends on against the TV camera’s… all methods to collect evidences of our existence.
Let’s ponder about this: receiving a postcard from a person we met occasionally during a trip, makes us happy.
Q: Why? From where this pleasure arises?
A: From the fact that he still remembers us!
Q: …and why the fact that he still remembers us, gives to us pleasure?
A: For the evident reason that this clearly shows that we didn’t pass unobserved, that we have leave the mark
Q: So, why don’t passing unobserved, unnoticed, leaving a mark, can give to us pleasure? What’s the value contained in such circumstance?
Now, let’s examine the opposite situation: it’s our birthday, and a friend forgot to wish us a happy birthday.
This produces in us some kind of suffering: bitterness, sadness, disappointment, depression, anger, depending by the rule and ascendant this friend has on us.
Q: Why this situation produces suffering?
A: Because this shows that this friend doesn’t remember us!
Q: And why the fact that he doesn’t remember us can give us such pain?
A: Because this is the proof that we are not in his thoughts, that I’m not so relevant in his interests hierarchy.
Q: But, finally, why the fact of not being in the others thoughts gives us suffering, and being remembered by the others gives us pleasure?
The answer is simple: if someone affirms my existence by speaking, thinking about me and phoning to me, this gives me the proof that I’m existing. On the contrary, if someone ignores me, he denies my existence, so affirms my non- existence.
“Please, speak about me… It doesn’t matter how, speak even against me, but don’t ignore me!!!”… this is the sad Mantra of our everyday life. You think this is an exaggeration? Just be a little bit sincere, and observe others and, then your reactions. This happens almost every moment.
Ignore someone, and he’ll make all the possible to draw your attention; if you ignore him, you affirm his non- existence, and this can be tolerated.
Existing is the imperative of every man and woman of every age. The struggle against what Nietzsche called “the marsh of non- existence”.
“You are nothing”, “You don’t consider me”, “You are u ignoring me”, “I need Your attention”….
The non- existence is more fearful of the same death. Because the death is something we know will happen, and we can prepare ourselves to face and exorcize her: a name on a tombstone, our photography, being remembered by friends and parents, an attempt to build something who could “pursue” a glimpse of our existence… or sons educated in our own image trough which we can continue in some way our existence…
So, even death becomes a sort of “stage” where we can play a rule who could affirm our existence, assuring to ourselves that we have a name, a form and some traits who guarantee our existence.
We have a name
Our name is maybe the main field we are identified with. Someone calls our name and we associate this to our person- so, we know we exist. When someone introduce himself saying his name it’s not more an anonymous (an-onema: without name).
All our life is determined by the fact that we receive a name from the day of our birthday. In the Christian tradition, the child who died before receiving a name during the baptism, were confined in a place called Limbo: an intermediate place excluded from Heaven and Hell.
Our name defines and ourselves and witnesses our existence: our name on a paper, newspaper, credit card, passport, postcard etc…
Ponder about how annoying is when someone calls us “hey you” or whistle or uses a gesture to call us instead of using our name.
We have a Body- Form
This statement is simple to understand. We have a body, an appearance trough which we can recognize ourselves and being recognized by the others.
Also, we recognize ourselves when we see the reflection of our body on a mirror.
Our body is the main mean of identification we have.
“Skinny, ” “Grease, ” “dumpy, ” “high, ” “low, ” the color of our skin, hair, eyes, if we are men or women, etc …
We have some characteristics
We are “Strong”, “weak”, “sensible”, “rich”, “Gentlemen”, “we have a character”, etc… we have some characteristic that we try to maintain immutable, and trough which we affirm and guarantee our “existence”: to let know the other “who” we are, so that we can also let this perceive to ourselves.
The axiom here is the following: “trough determined characteristics who can be recognized by the others as my, people can recognize me, so they affirm to me that I exist”.
So, a name, a form and some characteristics are the tools we have to affirm a fictional existence and to escape the true condition in which we are: non being.
But, a way to escape this mud of fears, insecurities, obligations and dependencies exists, and this way is called “Being”. That’s what we have to do if we want to emancipate ourselves from these conditionings, if we wish to be.