Monday, July 02, 2007

Doubt, the Navy, and Anna Karenina

I'm always interested in the history of my doubt, and I'm usually startled to discover reminders that it has been with me a long while. I just found this quote (slightly different translation) that I had copied into a journal in 1986 while I was on my western pacific cruise on board the Truxun (note: I was the only one reading Anna Karenina, I refused to read The Hunt for Red October while I was actually in the Navy).

Anna Karenina - Chapter 8

... he had been stricken with horror, not so much of death, as of life, without any knowledge of whence, and why, and how, and what it was. The physical organization, its decay, the indestructibility of matter, the law of the conservation of energy, evolution, were the words which usurped the place of his old belief. These words and the ideas associated with them were very well for intellectual purposes. But for life they yielded nothing, and Levin felt suddenly like a man who has changed his warm fur cloak for a muslin garment, and going for the first time into the frost is immediately convinced, not by reason, but by his whole nature that he is as good as naked, and that he must infallibly perish miserably.

(that was all I copied into the journal, seems to me it gets better a few paragraphs on)

The question was summed up for him thus: "If I do not accept the answers Christianity gives to the problems of my life, what answers do I accept?" And in the whole arsenal of his convictions, so far from finding any satisfactory answers, he was utterly unable to find anything at all like an answer. He was in the position of a man seeking food in toy-shops and tool shops.

Never forget the importance of asking the right questions. Asking: "What is the Meaning of Life?" presupposes that there is something outside of you generating and attaching this meaning to your life. Isn't a better question: "What purpose shall I give to this moment, what meaning shall I give to my life?"


No comments: