Sunday, 3 March 2013

Latest ML Cogitation - ego-watching the ego

The latest Cogitation piece from Media Lens Editor David Edwards provides yet another challenging meditation on the demands and indulgence of the ego. Part 1, here.

In 'The Special One' - Part 2: Looking Under The Lamppost , Edwards asserts:
"There is an emptiness at the core of our being. The ego's great task is to fill that emptiness with evidence that we are 'someone' rather than 'nobody', that we are 'special'. But no matter how hard we try, our achievements continue to fall and vanish into the void."
Nothing, no level of gratification, no moment of success, is ever seemingly enough. The perpetual quest for recognition, approval, status enhancement and other momentary indulgence takes us on an endless road to a never-reached destination, an ever-distant horizon of non-fulfilment.

And with all that ego-bingeing comes a lifetime of angst and self-disappointment, whether it be our physical appearance, our business acumen, our intellectual capabilities, our capacity to find love and so on.

At what point does even our happiest pride or pleasure in creating something good, something self-valued, lapse into a more conceited desire to have it noticed, celebrated, popularised, remembered, idolised or otherwise loved?

Despite the apparently bleak prognosis for human happiness posed here, there's a special life-affirming value in reading this kind of cogitation, drawing the mind up in true reflective questioning, and perhaps happier realisation, of one's inner motives, impulses and self-evaluating honesty.

How well do we trust our ego to interrogate our ego? 

For this plodding blogger (was that an ego-inverted affectation?) it's also a welcome respite, an antidote, to the often sharp, barbed and adversarial exchanges that seem to come with the terrain, a mode of engagement that can drain and demoralise. 

From this, we might endeavour not to feel or project in such comment any particular animosity towards the person whose views or actions we're criticising. It's a laudable and benign thought. But, of course, it begs the further ego-hovering question: is this 'altruistic' separation of individual and the object of such criticism any less ego-pleasing than the rush we might get from actually scoring personal points over our 'adversary'?

Again, how ego-enhancing is it to feel good about 'unenhancing' the ego?

And so, such questions, convolutions and circularities seem to go on.

Yet, in Edwards's writing we find encouraging shards of light drawing us towards, if not pure illumination, then the possibility of how to comprehend and approach the problem of reconciling the ego in all these multifaceted forms.

In what sometimes feels an all-too-prevailing darkness of spirit, a fog of emotional and intellectual confusion, the more 'realisable' task, it seems, is to seek more assisted lamplight with which to shed some sense of contentment and reassurance in coping with the burden of our ego-demanding thoughts and actions, even if we might never succeed in eliminating them.

There's a comforting thought here in not hoping to conquer or suppress our ego-driving emotions, but in just simply watching and observing them, staying aware of their capacities to deceive, disappoint and perplex.

Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to another instalment of this fine lamplighting in Part 3. And, at the risk of more ego-attributing, I hope David Edwards enjoys his momentary pleasure in having crafted such a fascinating and humanitarian piece.


Rose said...

Thanks John. I (oops!) too am enjoying this latest cogitation although it made me feel like an onion - peeling back layers of self-deception and never getting to the centre. Your advice to just watch and observe is useful; turn off the judge/analyse button - is that it?

John Hilley said...

Thanks, Rose. Yes, DE's fine piece does really prompt all kinds of thoughts on 'detached inspection' of the ego. I think the 'watch and observe' process is in keeping with particular buddhist ideas of mindfulness and how we might come to pay attention to something or some thought 'on purpose', 'in the present moment' and non-judgementally' - as usefully explained here:

Again, Im looking forward to DE's further illuminations on how we might apply that to mindful observance of the ego.