I watched House tonight. per my usual. On Thanksgiving there is a marathon… House… all day. What a wonderful thing to contemplate. The only problem? My grandparents probably don’t get USA. C’est la vie…
Anyways… I watched the season finale to season 2 again… No Reason it’s called. It’s a good episode. A little bit Matrix… the thing that struck me this time though was something House says towards the end.
Cameron is telling him that if he’s hallucinating it’s a good one. "There’s no pain." And House says, but it’s not real. "I want meaning."
It reminds me of Brave New World a little. The savage implies that without pain life has no meaning, no point. Without pain, life isn’t worth living. House isn’t saying that precisely, but it’s close. And it got me thinking… can you have meaning in life without pain?
It’s a hard question… mostly because of the definition of the word meaning. Words have meaning… dictionary definitions that are very objective and stable, but words also have subjective meanings. Meanings that they might only mean to one person. Words get colored in by a persons life experience. Most things get colored by experience. And meaning is definately one of them. Some people might call a life meaningful because they helped people. Some because they accomplished what they set out to do. Some because they had a family. Some because they earned money. Meaning in life means different things to different people. The thing is… most of the things that people usually cite as having given their life meaning aren’t things that were easy.
In Brave New World the savage is in love with a girl. He wants her in a primal way, but he also wants to give her flowers and poetry. He wants to prove the love. But she is willing to give herself to him without any of that. And it infuriates him. I never really got this part, but then things mean different things to different people.
The thing that gives meaning though, is usually the striving… it’s the conscious act of hard work. Things that come easily usually mean less than things that are difficult. Someone who gives themselves to you freely without reservations is less hard work than someone for whom you have to scale walls and fight off others for. The difficulties create the meaning…
So maybe you can’t have meaning without pain… I’m not saying it has to be loads of pain, or even physical pain… I’m not even saying I’m right.