Jean-Paul Sartre, once, wrote the complete truth in Existentialism and Human Emotions (1946) that later envisaged existentialism in the paradigms of psychology and human behaviour:
“A man is nothing, but what he makes of himself.”
Simple as it looks, this statement is a story, a lesson, and should possibly be tattooed on the soft skins of the softer man who fails to understand the dichotomy between the temptations of fantasy and the tribulations of reality; the paragon of restricted charm, a broken intellect; one who defends himself in truculent ways, hyperventilated terms; the author of misunderstood philosophies and desperate anxieties; one who cheats, and yet fails.
I call this man, the jejune.
This man reminds me of a rapacious character from Ben Jonson’s comedy of humours, The Alchemist (1610): Sir Epicure Mammon, the epitome of self-deception. Mammon was never a victim in his tragedy, but the conspirator of his own destruction, yet he professed, in elaborate terms, his virtuous intentions, until the curtain was finally drawn.
The jejune shares a handsome similitude with Mammon, in his politically-correct dysplasia, and his ability to fake. The philosopher’s stone that Mammon seeks shall not only transmogrify his fantasies to nothingness, but also reminds the jejune of the tragedy of the birds of Byzantium.
Yeats sings of Byzantium, the timelessness of paradise, the youth in youth; what the jejune fails to comprehend is the diorama of lived-experience, an understanding of the absent paradise, a world both you and I have never seen, and would never live to narrate stories of. The evil whisperer shall still search for citizens of the world, which, undoubtedly, is everyman’s dream to be; never realizing that man’s capacity to empower himself rests within:
| कस्तुरी कुुं डल बसै, मृग ढू ढ़ैवन माहि |
“the navel is where the elixir lies, the
deer seeks it round the woods.”
Kabīr is timeless in approach, inspiring the world of permanence and beyond. With his pithy observations, he affixes himself to the spirit. Kabīr has been instrumental in informing readers the threats of ignorance.
Robert Lynd, in “The Pleasures of Ignorance” (1921), calls ignorance ‘not altogether miserable’, believing that there is something delightful about the idea of ignorance. If one drops a £2-coin, and finds it in his/her own pocket, the idea of discovery could be amusing where one could silently laugh at his/her own ignorance of consciousness. However, the idea of intrinsic ignorance is dangerous, which the jejune is incessantly admonished about.
The fact that Socrates knew nothing, as Lynd mentions, is undisputable. How Lynd frames it is quite contrary to how I interpret it: Socrates ‘was famed for wisdom not because he was omniscient, but because he realized’ that there are no boundaries to knowledge; that there is so much to learn, and so less a time to breathe; that circles are squares, and squares humanity.
Where is the jejune? Where we left him?
Perhaps, we can never tell. The jejune ambushes itself everywhere… it could be the person flouting public harmony, and instead crying for his own; the person who talks to you in the sweetest, most affable, way possible, and bites you by the shoulder; the shadow of condensed jealousies in the midst of love deserts; the rival of your peace; every adjective he calls you.
The jejune understands he can’t be you.