Love and Pain.

Acrylic Painting on Canvas(18″×24″) by Abhisek Pattnaik

Often we stand at crossroads, feeling dejected reflecting upon the mismatch between our expectations and what life has in store for us. But it is in these moments of extreme privacy, it becomes rather more important to sit back and reflect upon these as a result of one of the universal laws of nature. Love and Pain. Ironically we never think of them putting them in the same basket. But they always happen to chase each other… don’t they?  Sometimes even occurring at the same time.

“Aab kya karein janaab! Aas he to niraasa to hogi hi… par kabhi kabhi.” 🙂

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.

Schrodinger’s Cat

Written by Abhisek Pattnaik
Pic courtesy : Artstation.com

Areté : (Greek), the act of living up to one’s full potential.

You know looking at my past, what haunts me the most? It’s simply the foregoing of the possibilities of what I could have become. No, don’t get me wrong. I’m neither judging my current state nor carry this notion that the world and its elements needs to be layered to make any sense. Given the support I have received from my family throughout my life, I’m yet to believe in the idea of economic determinism(ie it is economics/money that determines every course of action) like that of Karl Marx. So, I continue to live in my distant ideal world, staying an idealist(someone who envisions a world i.e. ought to be rather than the real one). Hence, the possibilities I have foregone have nothing to do with the social status or power hierarchy or the paychecks that we receive by the end of every month. But rather, the idea of experiencing them in their totality. I can’t simply pull a rickshaw for a day and become a rickshaw puller. Nor can I engage in active politics for a day and call myself a politician. I’ll simply remain myself. A selection of decisions/choices from among the infinite possibilities drawing a narrow path, which has become quite thin now to allow me to accommodate something else into it. And, this makes me think of the ‘many world’ hypothesis.

You must be aware of the thought experiment famous by the name of Schrodinger’s cat. It was given by physicist Erwin Schrodinger as an allegory to explain the complexities of quantum physics.

Imagine there is a sealed box with a cat in it. And there is a radioactive element and a vial containing poisonous gas to accompany it. The system is so designed that if the radioactive element decays within an hour, the hammer falls, breaking the vial and thus, killing the cat. But, the chances of decay of the element within an hour is 50/50. Hence, Schrodinger argues that the cat in the sealed box is simultaneously both dead and alive before the box is opened. According to him, since there is no one inside the box to witness the happenings, the cat exists in all its possibilities i.e. both dead as well as alive. This in a way gave way to the ‘many world’ hypothesis  by Hugh Everett later. According to it, all possible outcomes for any quantum event or decision are physically realized in some “world” or universe.

Okay! This is assuring, to know that infinite copies of me are living simultaneously in parallel worlds as the rest of the possibilities.
Me as a cricketer. Checked.
Me as a pilot. Checked.
Me as an artist. Checked.
Me as a billionaire. Checked.
Hah! But what about this copy of myself, that I’m getting to experience. How can I transgress this limitedness and become the rest of them simultaneously?

Like the Schrodinger’s cat, I derive my status, my identity from others. Don’t I? Certainly it depends on what and how the society perceives me. Hell, I can’t even tell the difference between what’s real and what’s forced in me now. I wonder what if I simply lock myself up in a box as a solution. Like the cat, I’ll be perceived by none. Shouldn’t it liberate me then; helping me to exist simultaneously in all my possibilities from here on; helping me achieve my Arete!

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