Monday, December 14, 2009

Better to Have Tried and Failed

It is possible to claim upon failure that it is better to have tried and failed than to have never tried before, but such words seem vacuous and empty. Perhaps there is some small truth in those words, and that it is indeed better to risk risks and experience experiences. However, it is more common for these words to be invoked to provide some measure of self-comfort, to assuage oneself of the redeeming benefits of one's failed endeavor.

It is not wrong to adopt such means of preserving one's esteem or happiness, for in fact humans are apt at devising such subtle self-lies, and that without such artificial constructs to hold the harsh realities at bay our sanity would be suspect. However, in realizing the true nature behind these untruths, one is resigned to either unhappiness or self-deception. In the former case, perhaps the only resort is to reveal the piercing truths, and to engage in schadenfreude, which is perhaps the only form of joy in a miserable world.


Anonymous said...

Why should 'claim[ing] upon failure that it is better to have tried and failed than to have never tried before' be an instance of 'subtle self-lie'?

Also, in what way is it untrue? I struggle to assign any independent truth value to the human worldview. The falsity of a worldview can be proven if it concerns assertions on issue empirical in nature, which the instance you have expatiated on is not.

It is indeed a miserable and wretched soul who claims Schadenfreude as the sole well-spring of self-contentment, because the eudaimon life is so much more worthy of his/ her pursuit.

The Negative Man said...

In hindsight my writing was unclear.

I was not using the word truth to refer to any objective fact or reality. Rather, my use is closer to the word true (as in, 'true to yourself'), wherein the meaning is genuine, not deceitful.

Now, the question of the self-lie. It is a self-lie if the words are spoken as (perhaps without the conscious intent) words of comfort, words that serve no purpose but to make oneself feel better. In such a scenario, the claim is deceitful, because its sole aim is to deceive oneself, or to distract oneself, from the reality of failure. Furthermore, the claim is not heartfelt, in that one does not believe in the claim but pretends to as an adopted response to failure.

Finally, regarding the (perhaps poorly timed) schadenfreude comment, perhaps the eudaimon life is better (by definition, eu). However, in the context, if all the world is meaningless and poor, then perhaps such a lifestyle is impossible. In a world which is burning to the ground, perhaps the only thing to comfort us is the fact that we are not alone in misery.