Are you in a race with things, never at peace?

Hamsun4Why can’t we have at peace? The answer is very easy: modern society systems. Nowadays people are in a race, never at peace. I know that we have to earn money to support family and have some responsibilities to take care of, but is it really called life? I really think that one sometimes takes a break from hectic daily activities and takes a good look at modern society systems. In doing so, he will soon realize what a mess we have created and what nonsense we are participating in every day. Human beings do not exist for only taking a job, but we sometimes need to relax ultimately, away from any obligations. We sometimes need to be carried back to the dear, foolish bliss of childhood. Only that way can we be content and at peace.  Hamsun gave us wisdoms in Last Joy:

“But can this really be called Life? There you made a slip of the tongue. It’s a life you can’t understand. Sure, you have your home in town, and you have furnished it with knickknacks and pictures and books; but you have a wife and a maid and a hundred expenses. Waking or sleeping, you are in a race with things, never at peace. I am at peace. Keep your bright ideas and books and art and newspapers, keep your cafes too and your whisky, which only makes me sick every time. Here I walk the forest and feel contented. If you ask me intellectual questions and try to catch me out, I merely answer, say, that God is the source and that men are verily just dots and specks of dust in the universe. Nor have you gotten any further. But if you go so far as to ask me what eternity is, I’ve gotten exactly as far as you in this, too, and answer, Eternity is just uncreated time, simply uncreated time. My friend, come here and I’ll take a mirror from my pocket and set a spot of sunlight on your face and illuminate you, my little friend.”

“I lie and think about the reindeer, the path it took, what it did at the SkjelRiver and how it wandered on. There it slipped under some branches where its horns grazed the bark, leaving some marks; there an osier thicket forced it to turn aside, but just beyond the thicket it straightened out the curve and kept on going east. I think about all this? And you? Did you read in one newspaper, as opposed to some other newspaper, what Norwegian public opinion is about Social Security right now?”

“Now you’ll see your chance to parody me, you can say lots of amusing things about this pine stump and me. And yet, deep down you know that in this, as in everything else, I have an edge on you, except that I don’t have as much academic knowledge, nor am I a student, heh-heh. About field and forest you can teach me nothing, there I feel what no man has felt.”

“The days are getting longer and I won’t complain about that. The fact is I’ve suffered great hardship this winter and learned to discipline myself. It occupied my time, and it required a certain strength of will occasionally. I have to say I’ve paid dearly for my education. Sometimes I was unnecessary hard on myself. There is a loaf of bread, I said, it doesn’t surprise me, it doesn’t interest me, I’m used to it. But now you’ll see no bread for twelve hours, then it will make an impression on you, I said, and hid the loaf.”

“After a few hours walking I am like new from top to toe, all is going well. I brandish my stick in the air and it swishes “ho”; when I think I’ve earned it I sit down and eat. You certainly have none of my joys in town. I strut along, full of life and spirit, on the point of whooping and hollering. I pretend my load weighs nothing at all, leap about needlessly and overexert myself a bit; but it’s easy to put up with overexertion when you’re driven to it by inner contentment. Here in my solitude, many miles from people and houses, I experience childlike states of carefree happiness that you cannot possibly understand, unless you get someone to explain them to you. Listen: striking a pose, I pretend I’ve just noticed a remarkable kind of tree. At first I don’t pay much attention to it, but after a little while I stick out my neck and squint and stare. What? I say to myself, could it really be – ! I say. I throw down my load and go closer; I examine the tree and nod; sure, it’s one of a kind, a fabulous tree, I have discovered it! And I take out my notebook and describe the tree. Just a joke, just fun, an odd little impulse – I play. Children have done it before me. And here there’s no postman to take me by surprise. But I quit the game as suddenly I began it, as children do. For a moment, thought, I was carried back to the dear, foolish bliss of childhood.”

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8 thoughts on “Are you in a race with things, never at peace?

    • Thanks, Sophie. I know you are a peaceful person. I want to have a peaceful soul, but it’s hard for me to calm down as long as I stay in Japan. Anyway, I try to be true myself all the time. I am in Japan, but not of Japan. I am always an outsider.

    • Thanks Julien! I am glad to hear that you like it. And many thanks for recommending me the book, which seems very interesting. I am sure that I will read it. Could you tell me the name of Author?
      Regards,
      Shogo

      • Sure thing! The full title is “Evolution of Human Societies: From Foraging Group to Agrarian State,” and the author is Allen W. Johnson.

        It’s a very interesting look into how society evolved and what drives its evolution. They make much use of the Marxist idea of history, which at time hampers their analysis, but I think if you were going to choose any one theory of history to help organize your thoughts on such a subject, the Marxist theory would be the best.

        Another thing they do really well is bring everything back to the twin drivers of evolution: population growth and technological advancement. Furthermore, they do not mislead the reader into thinking such evolution is linear. They use a multilinear approach which shows the general principles of all social development without being bogged down by a notion of “progress.” In fact, if I remember correctly, the author, in the introduction, makes a very deliberate point to tell the reader that what he is describing is evolution and NOT “progress.” He even calls out how our quality of life has gone down in some respects as society evolves into a more efficient machine.

        Anywho, hope you like it. It definitely influenced me.

        Sincerely,
        Julien Haller

      • Julien, many thanks for describing the book! I will buy it from Amazon.com and read as soon as possible, since I have to read six books before reading it.
        Who is your favorite writer, by the way? I would like to know. Take care!
        Regards,
        Shogo

    • Thanks! And I perfectly agree with you. I try to enjoy every single moment and do whatever my heart desires, although I am having a difficult time in Japan. As you said, I will do something pointless in order to have fun!

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