The Departing…

‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch
Written by Abhisek Pattnaik

Seeing his helpless aunt and hearing the pitch of her cry gave in for the violent waves of emotions to engulf his face. Scratching his head in no less mannerism of a mad man he directed her towards the room where the dead body of his father was lying still and cold; surrounded by the howling members of the pack. The madness of uncertainty took over only for a few seconds though, for good or worse, before he came back to his stoic self and continued with his engagements in the corridor.

The ship of Theseus

Written by : Abhisek Pattnaik
Image courtesy : Freak’s shutter

What would you deduce of your life if it has come to this point where you take a leave from office for no particular reason at all or maybe because you had grown used to the paid holidays during lockdown period, only to find yourself attending office in your dream during the daytime nap that almost lasted for a day’s working hours. Too many layers, right!

I was aware of the never settling debate of dualism in philosophy i.e. body and mind are two radically different entities and the debate of reality/identity based on it inclined on one of them over the other. It reminds me of the Ship of Theseus Paradox. The Greek historian Plutarch was the first to mention it in his works which goes like the following:

“During its long voyage as the planks of the ship of Theseus needed repair, it was replaced part by part, to a point where not a single part of the original ship remained in it, anymore. So the question arises, whether the now sailing ship still continues to be the same ship?” To this Thomas Hobbes later added another layer i.e. if all the discarded parts of the ship is collected and used to build another ship, which of the two should be called the real ship of Theseus.

Some argue that it is the body that goes over mind. But our cells die and according to some estimates every seven years we become a completely new individual, because in that time, every cell in our body gets replaced by a new one. But then, the identity of us continues to survive. 

And if we go by the narrative that it is the mind over the body, we do change how we think, how we perceive things as we age. I certainly would like to believe that we grow wiser with age. Then what is it that remains constant to continue to give us our identity?

Guess, I personally feel inclined to the analysis that says, the only thing that remains constant in us is change. Like ancient greek philosopher Heraclitus puts it, “We never step in the same river twice.” Our body changes, so does our mind and its faculties to allow us to see things differently. What remains constant to give us our continued identity is only the illusion of unity like the roll film where each frame is followed by another but it happens with such spontaneity that it appears as a single film.

But I’m a practical man and I can be accommodative. Coming back to my earlier question of what I should deduce from my dream is a topic for another day. “Mind over body” shall be my choice of reality when it comes to attending office, but only in my dreams.

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