What it’s like in hell

This girl lives it. Daily.

Apart from the fact that Aleisha will probably never develop any virtuous qualities, what’s so terrible to me about her life is that, though her life is “all about her”, she surely has no idea of who she is – where the boundary between herself and the rest of the world lies. How could you when every desire you have is instantly granted, and nothing stands in the way of your will? (Of course, she’s been raised to entertain only the trite sort of concerns that can be met instantly, all the time).

It’s the resistance that the world provides to our will that helps us locate and sense our selves, and this is a good thing. To take a simple example, you know that your hand is separate from, say, the air, because the air moves against, rather than in complete unison with, your hand. In a dark room, you know you are not near the center when you feel a wall. These resistances of the material world help us locate ourselves physically, and Aleisha has that, but she doesn’t have a more important sense of locale provided by the resistance of the immaterial, personal world.

Most people don’t like yes-men, friends who agree gladly, and without hesitation, to every thought or suggestion the other person has. This is because, in the presence of a yes-man (or yes-woman), you are all alone. There is no tangible, substantial Other there with you whom you can sense and rely on, because sensing the Other is just like sensing a wall; it happens through the Other’s resistance, in some way, to you. This is just what otherness is – a sort of resistance that lets you know where you stop and the other begins.

Aleisha lives in a world with no real Others. Some people surely resist her will, but her will is so petty, and she is so self-consumed, that she can dismiss them with no consequence, and choose to live in the world crafted and maintained by her parents – two self-less individuals who function as a mere extension of the will of a child lost in someone else’s dream of her. If she ever wakes up, it will be into her worst nightmare – a world that is not hostile, but  merely indifferent to her. Either seems like a profound sort of hell to me. One, a world in which there is only her, floating through the world-become-dream. Another, in the real world, which has become a nightmare in the face of her narcissism  which keeps her from being able to recognize the small place assigned to her.

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