In the absence of being we need tricks, we need gimmicks, we need dodges, we need strategies. With being no tricks, no gimmicks, no dodges, no strategies are needed…
Things being what they are however there is fierce business going on in the buying and selling of tricks, gimmicks, dodges and strategies of all kinds. Things being what they are, the person with the best strategy gets to be the winner. The Holy Grail – as far as we are concerned – is some kind of super-effective trick or strategy.
Things being what they are, the question on everyone’s lips is “What’s your angle?”That’s what we all want to know. Everyone has an angle after all and the player with the best angle wins the game, as we have just said. We are perennially interested in the type of approach the other guy might be taking – just as long as he isn’t an obvious loser, otherwise, of course, we’re not so interested! No one asks a loser what his strategy is!
If being replaced ‘nonbeing’ then an entire world, an entire system, an entire way of life, would vanish overnight. The whole economy would collapse. None of that stuff would be necessary – none of that would be relevant. We would no longer have this all-consuming concern with tricks, gimmicks, dodges and strategies. We could take it easy instead. We could hang out. We could enjoy life. We would no longer have to spend all our time ‘trying to make something be what it isn’t’.
This seems like such a strange thing – too strange for us to grasp, generally speaking. It’s an alien concept. When our whole way of life is about trying to make something be what it isn’t (even though this may not be how we see it) then how strange must it feel to all of a sudden stop this? What would we do with ourselves? What would our lives be about then? Or would we be then? As Jean Baudrillard says,
It is always the same: once you are liberated, you are forced to ask who you are.
Our sense of self (our identity) is provided for us by our ‘seeking behaviour’ – our seeking behaviour (and the specific strategies by which we enact this never-ending seeking) are our identity. Just as Carl Jung says that through the process of unwise social adaptation we very quickly end up being our masks, being our roles, being our personas, it is also true that we end up being our tricks, our gimmicks, our strategies. What else are ‘masks, roles, and personas’ other than strategies, after all? All of these are a means of seeking; all of these are way of seeking the being that we so painfully lack in our lives.
For this reason (because we have ended up becoming our own strategies) we don’t want to ‘give up our ceaseless strategizing’. Giving up our tricks (‘the tricks of the trade’) would mean losing our identity and we certainly don’t want to see that happen. Stumbling across being would mean the loss of our identity as the striver, the seeker, the controller, the master player, etc, and that’s why we don’t want to have anything to do with ‘being‘. Erik Fromm says that if we ever came across freedom then we would run a mile, and the very same could be said for being!
This puts us in a very odd position therefore. It puts us in an extraordinarily odd position. Our entire way of life is based on the (unacknowledged) striving for being (since we strive without really knowing what it is that we’re striving for) and yet this being is – at the same time – the very last thing that we want. Our whole identity is defined by our strategies, by our approaches, by our ‘striving to obtain being’ and yet it is this very identity that we would have to say goodbye to if we actually found what we were looking for. We are searching for being on behalf of the ever-hungry concrete identity and yet the concrete identity doesn’t really want to have anything to do with it.
It is this very identity that we would have to kiss goodbye to forever and yet – quite understandably – the identity which is based on tricks and dodges and strategies, the identity that is based on the ongoing never-ending doomed attempt to ‘make good its lack of being‘ – doesn’t want to say goodbye to itself. That’s not part of its plans at all. The concrete identity very much doesn’t want to ‘kiss goodbye to itself’ and if it has any say at all in the matter (which it does) then it won’t…