On forgiving and the human condition, a reflection through Anna Karenina
It bothers me that I should find Anna Karenina confusing. First to discover that I cannot identify with the inconsequential, all-dispelling passion for love. Second, that yet I agree to the mantra of love the sinner, forgive the sin.
There is nothing but truth in the content of the story. I don’t mean that I take there to be historical accuracy but that I truly believe the various sub-plots throughout the body of the story act as mirrors to the workings of the world. Or rather, from my naive, obscure observation of the world.
What do I mean by that? As an audience to J’s dramatic life-disrupting relationship routines, it surprises me how she is very much like Anna Karenina. A prior un-exciting but healthy relationship with K had bored her. She parallels the absence of excitement as equivalent of lack of joy, and by default, with the feeling that her life is non-fulfilling. Yet the sense of an unfulfilled opinion of her life had never so much as warranted a request to end the relationship, until she met L. For the sake of indulging my analysis, I would ask, why had she not fought for the same passion while she was with K? Why did Anna not fight to pursue the excitement with which she had so yearned for while with Karenin? Perhaps, the question could also be this, why did they stand the unbearable torture of being with someone they did not love when they could leave prior to this without heart break, or breaking hearts, or betrayal? Why impose torture upon the ones who had merely bored them with a painful betrayal?
As with the attitude that I am frequently harsh in my judgement of people, I would accuse them of being selfish, building their limited span for happiness through causing unnecessary pain to the other. This is with reference to the truth that they could have just severed ties with the person who had loved them prior to pursuing a new fresh relationship. But pivotal to this determination for happiness was the thrill of betrayal and hypocrisy. They were happy because they thought that they were “living life”, “Carpe Diem”, as opposed to their partners who had the lesser fortune of meeting them, and being spontaneous. And to further their conviction that what they had done was right, they excused themselves for living for the moment and that this path was the path to happiness.
Yes, I am cruel. It’s funny because I don’t know who I could blame for this show of bitterness. I suppose one day I will explore the extents of my self criticisms. Not today, haha.
I had been advised that to be more compassionate I would have to try to understand. So here is my attempt:
My guess is that J. or Anna Karenina did not know how to break the news, and were afraid of facing the consequences. The voluntary approach to admitting and ending perhaps is a human reaction to delaying unhappiness or awkward situations. At the same time, it must feel unnatural to reject the pleasure of the newfound love, and so continually they indulge in betrayal.
The misfortune of betrayal and bad relationships was brought upon by the armour of uncalculated fearlessness.
This really creates a different scenario. It is not that they had purposefully set out to hurt the people who loved them. But that they had been careless. This leads to the second point of confusion that resulted in this tumblr entry: that I agree in that love for the sinner, warrants forgiveness for the sin. It brings to mind one particular early scene prior to the drama of Anna Karenina’s affair. In a reversed role, Anna Karenina was trying to convince her brother’s wife, Dolly to forgive her husband’s philandering, and that he was remorseful:
AK: What he wants is you. He loves you. You and the children are everything to him!
D: Are we? And there is room for a governess?!
AK:That is shameful. Disgraceful. But it was not love. It’s the animal in man. Not the soul. Stevie’s remorse is from the soul.
D: But what about me? Does his remorse makes it easier for me?
AK: I know you are suffering, but Dolly you must tell me: Is there enough love left in your heart; enough to forgive him?
D: When I think of them together I can’t forgive him.No.
AK: My poor lamb, so you would rather accept your fate?
D: My fate?! But I haven’t done anything. Its him who’s…
AK: Do you love him Dolly?
Dolly slowly but unwillingly nods.
AK: You love him, and he loves you. But you can’t forgive, so your lives must continue like this forever with both of you wretched.
This is the dilemma. Anna Karenina had got it right. We have to accept our fate. Whether we like it or not. The fate of accepting the person you love for all their faults, along with the fate of suppressing the pain.That love must be great enough to excuse the human nature of the one you love - you must forgive (the implication of having no choice). Because if you indulge your human nature of not forgiving, ultimately you must bear the consequence of your loss - not having the same relationship ever again, even if you, like Dolly, hadn’t “done anything”. This is the coldness of the human condition, I suppose:
To be warm and forgive, but to be cold and silent an anxious heart.
What a disappointing and sad resolution to my confusion. :(
Sad because the ultimate decision that points to one’s happiness, is not more empowering than the rejection to be angry.
Rejoice in the sound of Klung Children
An illustration based on a visual interpretation of the sound of an Angklung.
A contribution to a friend, Ferdi’s project and exhibition on a traditional Indonesian instrument. you can find out more here.
ink on paper
On Emotion and Creation
To create is to harness an experience and or a subjective intuitive reaction for use.
Really impressed to learn about Frederic Chopin. Going to throw myself into familiarisation with classical music at once. Never felt I could listen to classical music, simply because I was not educated to understand them. To me, they sound like tinkering of keys or banging of notes as emphasis or lullabyes that lull you into deep sleepyness. That was what classical piano was to me. But I am uneducated.
So glad to learn about the quality and essence of what constitutes a Romantic piece; an indulgence into the emotion - to compose a piece of elusive moveable off-beat notes. The sound of pure emotion, perhaps? Very amazed.
I wonder if Chopin lived in the Classical age of Mozart and Beethoven, would they have thought him mad? “This kid who bangs off beat tunes”, “You have potential but you should listen more carefully”. Can imagine how organisation and precision can destroy intuition. Would love to hear a Chopin reinterpretation of classical pieces by Mozart and Beethoven.
Feeling very happy and in awe. :)
Visited my 1 month old nephew Leonard today and I don’t think I’ve ever touched any creature so small in size. And whoa, when I stroked his head, it was soft and warm with barely any hair, and I could feel the skull beneath it. I don’t know… baby L. felt like an animal.
I always had this irrational fear, I describe it a phobia, of animals - puppies, cats, goats.. And it’s not some stupid girly fear, I mean, I’m fine with cockroaches…
Well, so I really enjoyed hanging out with baby L. They told me he can’t see much cos newborns take a while to develop their eye sight or something whatever, but sometimes I catch him staring a a single spot and moving his arms, as if in response to whatever he was looking at. Made me think of those creepy films where the baby sees an evil spirit and the evil spirit was just not visible to anyone.
And the scary part is I try to catch his attention by putting my face really close to his, as I was thinking to let him focus on me he has to be able to see me. So for the sake of his bad (undeveloped) eye sight, I put my face really close to his. He always looks at me for less than a minute before his eyeballs shift toward what looks like somewhere just to my right. And I try to “block” his view by further moving myself to my right but then his eyes will drift to the left, where there is space within his view frame unoccupied by me.
It really is that either he really does not find my face intriguing at all (since taking no interest), but otherwise I can’t help but worry about the evil spirit stereotype the movies always cover.
After a very long and mind boggling session of interview for a magazine, the tutor introduced the idea of bad faith to me and P. Bad faith as an idea constructed by Jean Paul Satre, described as the habit that people have of deceiving themselves into thinking that they do not have the freedom to make choices for fear of the potential consequences of making a choice.
Somehow relating to architecture school, I always think that bad faith is involved in the specialisation students choose. And maybe I’m biased and love my specialisation a lot, but I feel that bad faith is really not helping my stream.
It is true that sustainability and techology stream makes us more attractive to potential employers, having actual skills and equipped with knowledge of modern tools and materials. It is not a misconception. Design stream, on the other hand is valuable for how academic it requires its students to be, not revealing in the design studio but definitely indicative in its planned curriculum of its core modules.
To be completely honest, I think that most people belong more to the sustainability track than the design stream. Mainly because a lot of people believe themselves to be more academic than they actually are. See, the idea of academia somehow evokes ideas of educated-ness, of refinement and elegance… At the same time, it also casts a complete opposite stereotype on technology and sustainability students; i.e. that we’re robots, and obsessed with technology to the point of non-existing criticality… not untrue of some people, but not the absolute truth for every single person. In bad faith, people choose the design stream because they sincerely believe that going into sustainability and technology track means they will inevitably be moulded into the stereotyped robots and uncritical students… or worse, that it is uncool to have people stereotype them to be robots or uncritical students.
I only raise this as an issue because at the interview, Jeffrey described a student who had the “dilemma of whether to enter the sustainability and technology stream, or the design stream”. While there is nothing untrue about what Jeffrey had described, it just led me to think that there’s a lot of bad faith going on. It is not just that people are measuring the surface benefits of the various available choices when choosing streams, but before that, they had already made the choice to not be themselves - to make the choice that is not authentic to them because they are not those stereotypes. And any attempt to weigh the stream on surface level benefits is merely a superficial attempt to explore the false justification of “it’s not me to do that stream”, to further deceive themselves they belong to a certain group.
The sad truth is that it is not merely applicable to education. In many aspects of our lives we are too chicken to be other than what we are because of what people might think.
Passing Motion: Peristaltic Pavilion
material: Fibreglass reinforced nylon
location: set in 2015, Milan Expo