Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Cold Fish

I've just finished Diana Athill's Somewhere Near the End (blogged about elswhere) and mused that her lack of empathy and conscience is similar to that manifested in the autobiographical writings of Simone de Beauvoir. Musing upon that further, I have a niggling worry that the flaw that troubles me somewhat in these writers' perceived personalities (perceived, because one can only see what they commit to print) may also be present in my own. My husband has, in the past, commented on my lack of sympathy, to which I reply that - as an emotion - it is largely useless and self-indulgent. There are family members who will, on witnessing a child graze its knee (for example) will emote and commote along with the infant, uttering torrents of comforting babble. My reaction would be a brief hug and a rational assessment of the damage, its treatment and diversion from the injury with another engagement. Guilt, as well, I count as a redundant emotion. It cannot change what has been done and equates, to my way of thinking, to emotional flagellation. Events are either under, or not under, your control. If the former, think hard before you act: if the latter, what could have been done anyway? Life goes on. I think that this attitude was inculcated during my childhood. There, there, never mind, these things happen. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get on with it. Maybe I'm a bit warped! Or a Stoic? Epictetus is one of my heroes too. What you cannot change, you must change your attitude to. Call me a hypocrite, but it doesn't seems that appealing in other people!

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