23:25 Wed 06 Dec 2006. Updated: 01:01 07 Dec 2006
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I asked my friend Varia to provide a word to kick off what I would write about for today's post, and she came up with 'oblique'. These are my musings on the word.

The meaning of ‘oblique’ that I’m addressing here is that of being indirect, unstraighforward, with connotations of slyness or underhandedness. What in our lives coomunicates indirectly and often with apparent deviousness?

The self. Whatever this being, or entity, or aspect, or thing, or fragmented multiplicity of things is, it’s rarely clear. Its desires, dictates, and drives are not communicated to us precisely. We often do not know what will make us happy, or sad. But more than that, we often think we do, only to find that we have been tricked—tricked by a self that has hidden motives of its own and uses all manner of carrots and sticks to prod us along.

Why else would consumerism, especially consumerist advertising, work? We’re not really going to be happier with more or cooler stuff. But we are tricked into thinking we will be. What about phobias and other fears, especially those fears that hold back either self-expression or self-exploration? We often do not know where they come from, or why we have them, or how to overcome them even when we are rationally convinced they’re harmful.

Clearly, the self has some positive power over happiness also, but so much of our approach to that is guesswork—guesswork and habit, although sometimes habit fails us. What made us happy before ceases to do so. Why? It’s unclear. Something pushes us towards change—or pushes us to fear change. Something pulls us towards love—or pulls us towards isolation.

Knowing why we do what we do, or why we are what we are, or how we should be in order to satisfy our demanding selves—unless rather fortunate, we are not usually given these answers. Instead we look down at the surface of our soul’s ocean, trying to discern the deep currents.

But then, without this mystery, this this maddening complexity, what would life be? It might not involve consciousness, since consciousness seems superfluous when all the instructions are laid bare. Is consciousness an outgrowth of the struggle to understand, and satisfy, increasingly intricate sets of directives?

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2 Responses to “‘Oblique’”

  1. kevintel Says:

    This is pedantry month on tadhg.com, isn’t it? You’ve even picked a pedantic variation of English with which to write. E-pedant. Anyway, I used to have the domain ‘oblique.nu’. I couldn’t get oblique.com, and I felt that the word ‘oblique’ was a really cool, designer-like word which would be a great domain name. I let it lapse since then, because I got ‘andcurve’ which is also extendable since it is formed of two words.

    Hmm, I think I might write something about this today (it all depends on how ‘prime’ I appear to feel later on).

  2. Tadhg Says:

    I don’t think that was a pedantic post, although you could argue that this is a pedantic comment. And I didn’t pick a ‘pedantic variation of English’ for this post, either—unless you mean that all my writing is inherently a pedantic version of English… Anyway, it’s written in standard (American) English. The E-Prime stuff was last month (and is all tagged with “e prime”).

    Yes, you should write something about this!

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