I heard once, from a Brazilian philosopher, that we — humans — need to keep on mind some sense of alienation to continue on our paths without getting lunatic.
With it of course I agreed that time, and so with the philosopher. Until today I tend to believe that this is a valid, reasonable thought. If it’s not this way, how could we cope with that so many people are right now starving, suffering from violence, being corrupted by ostentatious men and women who just want to “swallow”, “engorge” them day by day? Alienation, as explained the philosopher, has to be taken in this sense. I understand it, and I reverberate it too. This is at least an interesting plea!
We alienate ourselves from the pain of others — that’s the truth, is it? It could be argued that, otherwise, how could we walk down those streets full of wretched people verging on solitude and scarcity, and not madden? How could we handle a reality in which “we” are being paid for this or that job while millions of people are not, or are just so exploited at which point they lose dignity to go on their miserable lives? And how could "we" face the embarrassing situation that "we" can read a book, watch any artistic movie, run for this or that, experience a wonderful moment by traveling or going to the theater, and so forth, while billions of others don’t even know how to read or what this or that work of art is all about? How, how, and how?
We couldn’t, "naturally" we couldn't, so we take a "deviation", which equals "alienation" — that's the key reasoning of that philosopher. For him, we couldn’t cope with these images, with this discomfort reality jumping out from gloomy pages of our history, of our everyday connections without being alienated from them all. I tended to disagree a little with him. By reading Kafka, for instance, we understand the motif of his "fantastic fiction", totally different than the concept of "fantastic" we find in (Edgar Allan) Poe's short stories, just to take a familiar example. And what we capture from Kafka's Metamorphosis, for example, from that Gregor Samsa being converted into a horrid insect? Well, the very concept of "fantastic" in Kafka relies on how "natural" men and women convert men and women into horrid insects. So this is not "alienation" but "acting", and "acting naturally" in front of the strangeness, imposing and being enclosed by this strangeness. So even if we look without looking properly, we are aware of. Or much more preponderant: we look to demote or to look down on. But there’s a moment, even if it’s brief or sporadic, we cannot decline to look. Looking to understand. Looking to refuse. And looking to try to fix. That’s my hope for humanity. What’s yours?