On An Unpredictable Disease, or In Search of The Subversive Humanity

I like to think that we all need philosophies and ideologies to live (like the Brazilian song already said, full of reason), and I say this in the plural, because this experience based on education constructions that we call life only makes sense if we can go from one planet to another, through the physical force that we acquire in the building up of this knowledge. I argue that we do not always have to be in line with the rules under which we choose to live, but there is no need to fight against them often. There is questioning and there is also acquiescence. Knowing to administer both things, we can search for what goes beyond all the theory. I have noticed that in recent years, with some notable existentialist cinematographic productions about the universe, most of the characters who illustrate these narratives are never satisfied no matter where they go, as if the cosmic vastness wasn’t enough to cure all the affliction of what it means to be human. We want to go to Mars, we want to leave Earth, we don’t want to stay on Mars, we don’t want to come back here. Man himself is his own illness, and it is one without cure, through which his own diagnosis makes of ourselves the ‘us’ that we know. That is why the plurality of things and ideas attracts me — if one remedy does not work, we will try another.

The polarization of society is a characteristic of our times inevitable and, it seems to me, irreversible, since we are always turning to it when things get difficult. I don’t know if it is because I was born inserted in the age of digitization and the literal connection between the poles of this planet, but the idea — and I mean the simple idea, the rational abstraction, that I am right in my tiny conceptions and the other is completely wrong in his intelligence is something that really scares me, to the point of making me feel that I am temporarily in a sort of limbo, with no expectation of getting out. It’s not that I don’t like being or don’t believe that I’m right, I’m not a hypocrite. It’s something like this: I know I’m right, but thinking that I’ll always be right gives me the feeling that I’m stuck in my place, in time and space. I know I’m right until they prove me wrong, and I know I love when they prove me wrong — that means I still have a lot to learn. As I always repeat in my essays: I love learning.

The disease of the “human being” is what makes man a human being in itself — it is a precise diagnosis. However, we can keep calm: we are human, but we are not permanently the symptoms of this disease. It is a pathology that is still being studied deeply, the signs that someone suffers with this disease are constantly changing, however much it seems that we live in a historical vicious circle. Okay, maybe we’re really stuck in this epidemic vortex known as humanity, but we’re talking about a disturbance so unique and peculiar that as we find ourselves going round and round and never moving beyond the limits of its manifestation, “human being” comes with a biological dysfunction essential for our survival: the capacity of not having qualities. It is a skill we all possess, but we are always so focused on acquiring qualities and perspectives that we attach ourselves to the first notion of “being” in which we fit, not allowing this characteristic to develop within us.

Many of us understand that doubts and plurality are what cause us to gradually cure ourselves of the disease of humanity; but we cannot always accept the intersubjectivity of multiple ideas, or even see beyond them. I, particularly, still am not able to do it. It is a virtue of true intellectuals, and not all of us are or will be intellectuals. It is a privilege that the enlightened have, but that even among them there is the division between those who see the mechanism of the lack of qualities and those who prefer to deny it and remain faithful to their conceptions of who they are that they already acquired, because they did so with a lot of effort. Even in these cases, no amount of effort is worth the polarization of your being. The one who knows that he is right but refuses to accept that he may be wrong in the face of new evidence is like the scholar who enters the largest library in the world and refuses to believe that there is more knowledge there than he can possibly acquire. To have the courage to admit that we are beings without qualities is to recognize that we live on islands that have neighboring lands. My island is not the only one in the world, neither is yours. I suffer from the same illness as you, so we will gain more by accepting that we are all right and wrong and that, someday, there will be a cure for humanity that won’t end up keeping us away from the essence of being human.

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Poli Gomes

brazilian law and humanities student, reader, writer. proud latina.