Sunday, February 15, 2009

the beggar

also 4/18/2002:
i just finished reading [Naguib] Mahfouz's The Beggar. he had a few things to say about science, our age of science and where art and philosophy fit in. the book is about a man who no longer feels relevant. a man searching for answers. searching for meaning in his life and, thus, the meaning of life.

he was an artist. he was a philosopher. he was a revolutionary. he should have been a leader. but things changed. times changed. somehow passed him by. art and philosophy were no longer relevant. could not approach, let alone answer, the ultimate questions. the meaning of existence. that was all science now.

and the revolution... he gave that up. was forced to. it came anyway. later. he'd given up by then. was busy with work, family and money. but these ended up being inadequate channels for his expression. diversions from his quest. the quest he'd suppressed. the quest that, for him, he could only follow through with poetry and art.

but that was now irrelevant. and, thus, he two was irrelevant. suppressed. and at a mid-life crisis of sorts it all fell apart. he began searching for answers. not through poetry. not through science. he wandered aimlessly looking for answers... in nightclubs and with prostitutes. looking for the ecstasy of life in sex, love, the sunrise... whatever.

begging people for clues and answers. anyone who seemed happy. at ease. and, in his state, everyone seemed at least more happy than him. more at ease. he never finds the answers to the questions that plague him. he turns inward and loses himself. gives up. on his family. friends. himself. life.

and the book ends with a line of poetry that comes back to him... life asking him, if he truly wanted it, why he'd left it?

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