Sunday, 18 September 2016

A debate of two lost souls. The Sunset Limited.


     I don’t believe in God. Can you understand that? Look around you man. Cant you see? The clamor and din of those in torment has to be the sound most pleasing to his ear. And I loathe these discussions. The argument of the village atheist whose single passion is to revile endlessly that which he denies the existence of in the first place. Your fellowship is a fellowship of pain and nothing more. And if that pain were actually collective instead of simply reiterative then the sheer weight of it would drag the world from the walls of the universe and send it crashing and burning through whatever night it might yet be capable of engendering until it was not even ash. And justice? Brotherhood? Eternal life? Good god, man. Show me a religion that prepares one for death. For nothingness. There’s a church I might enter. Yours prepares one only for more life. For dreams and illusions and lies. If you could banish the fear of death from men’s hearts they wouldnt live a day. Who would want this nightmare if not for fear of the next? The shadow of the axe hangs over every joy. Every road ends in death. Or worse. Every friendship. Every love. Torment, betrayal, loss, suffering, pain, age, indignity, and hideous lingering illness. All with a single conclusion. For you and for every one and everything that you have chosen to care for. There’s the true brotherhood. The true fellowship. And everyone is a member for life. You tell me that my brother is my salvation? My salvation? Well then damn him. Damn him in every shape and form and guise. Do I see myself in him? Yes. I do. And what I see sickens me. Do you understand me? Can you understand me?" -----White.

Today’s material is a play, a debate, a serious poignant soulful conversation between two men. This debate confronts you with the most delicate and grim topics, death, family, suffering, and meaning, this play is perfectly written, full of emotions, as well as an intellectual and spiritual journey for its readers. The setting is nothing but a room in a small tenement in a ghetto in Manhattan, New York, it is animated by only two nameless characters whom the playwright chose to call by their racial roots, Black and White. The play explores the clashes between two different cultures, races, classes, ideologies and beliefs in a very moving debate.
There is not a precise or complicated plot in the play, except for the pretext, Black was on his way work, White was on his way to off himself, until Black intruded in his suicide, brought him back to him place where they debate about existence, and nonexistence, where Black desperately wants to convince White not to attempt killing himself again.
The first character is an ex-convict, a man of religion, he was convicted after killing several people, yet he claims it wasn’t the worst thing he has ever done, he is black, uneducated but smart, an old man seeking redemption,  while the second character is a middle class white man, a man who is cultivated, loves art, literature, and music, at least he used to, he is a nihilist, suicidal, and pessimist, a soulless individual yearning for nonexistence
The two men embody a class of cultures, represent two separate perspectives on religion, suicide, suffering, and meaning. Basically the difference in terms of education is a milestone in the debate, first you have the white man who is great with words, he has read thousands of books in his lifetime, while the black man speaks slang southern English, the bible is the only book he believes should be read, and as the debate gets more intense both characters face the question of how much our misery is caused by our education, would we be happier not being able to see the world as it is? in other words, White can’t undo his perspective, while the Black doesn’t want to see life as it is in order to be happy, and sane, for both of them, there was this point of questioning weather they can start anew, in fact Black while being hospitalized in the jailhouse, he was a murderer, a criminal, then he was reborn after he felt God’s presence, but for White, the concept of God is something we create to start anew, to avoid guilt, he can’t seek redemption in a world doomed to suffer.
Their debate also covers the quest for meaning, Black finds meaning in solidarity, in brotherhood, and in God, but those things never gave White meaning, and the things he valued were frail and fragile, lost their charm in a sense, he used to find meaning in, as he calls it, the foundations of civilization,  music, art and culture. Black and White’s perspectives are influenced by class, not generalizing, but poorer countries are the most religious, so is the case for Black.
The debate of the play is the contrast between two individuals who have and lack what pins them to existence, what gives them meaning, but it extends as most philosophical fiction or drama to show how we relate to the things that give us meaning, what keeps us alive, and up how much of our daily lives we spend on denying the cruelty of existence, or on rejecting the lack of a prior meaning to our existence. To accentuate, for example the difference between a political activist, specially in current monarchies or for example in Saudi Arabia, see repression and fight it, while the remaining citizens are not stupid or don’t have an opinion as much as they are terrorized to see the repression that befalls them and acknowledge it as it is, because in doing so they will feel like a failure, hence  our relationship with existence, we don’t want to complicate life, we don’t want to think about things on a grand scale, deep down we all know that we are ill-fated to live in a meaninglessness.
Furthermore, responsibility and lack of duty are very important in religions to keep people alive. Religions provide individuals with a sense of belonging to a community, thus a sense of responsibility for their kins that give them sort of a meaning I their life, but without religions, a lot of atheists  consider that nature in general is our home, collective home, and we have to be responsible of preserving it all of us, the thing that gives them purpose, but for WHITE building communities is a desperate move towards fulfillment, because they are as meaningless and painful as existence, and it if for this reasons he desires death, death has no communities. White doesn’t feel obliged to be responsible for other people.
This book is a must read for any person, it gives a insightful perspective of how people relate to what gives them meaning, either you were nihilist or essentialist, religious or atheist you will find your way to relate to it.

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