Depth in Emotion
What is emotional depth? Is it how deeply we feel an emotion, or how deep into our character from which it emerges? I'd like you to take a minute and contemplate an idea for one second. In each painting, there is always depth. The color stretches on infinitely as if we were looking into a desert sky. Only limitless, hidden stars block our view and we assume looking into the sky that it stretches on forever. Perhaps between the inch of canvas there lies an infinity: an Aleph Null of moments and places and possibilities.
What if emotions were the same way? I'd like to imagine the nurturing thought that humans can only feel a certain level of pain and sorrow; that biology prohibits humans from sensing anything past the most painful experience. But then I'd have to limit the depths of what makes life truly worth it: Love, Happiness, Satisfaction, Calm. For my 16th birthday, I received a gift from a wonderful friend. A box of constellation themed matches; the kind I could watch burn like the scene in Breaking Bad. As I burned these matches I remembered a conversation I had with this girl, the same friend, about the purpose of emotions. She believed that a life where one felt only a few emotions was bland, that emotion was like color; creating variation in life in a brilliant display. I believe that emotion has its purposes: loneliness tends to elicit self-contemplation, passion tends to elicit great works of art and achievement, happiness lends to satisfaction and drive. I'm not quite sure the purposes of emotions like envy or anger, but they contribute to the overall character of the individual. I don't want to think of emotions like color; it's overused and frankly ridiculous. Assigning red to love retracts from the intricacies of the depth of the emotion.
Perhaps emotional depth is like frequency. There's theoretically no real limit to frequency, but humans only have a range in which they can perceive it. It'd explain how the experience of multiple emotions creates a sort-of harmony, accentuating the depth to which we feel.
There's something mysterious about the quality of emotional depth. Months ago, I translated a bit of Latin for a school project or whatever. I don't remember the story or the context, but the translation goes like this:
Both it is pleasing and I see it, but what I see and what is pleasing nevertheless I cannot find.
I don't remember the parallel for emotion, but apparently it had one. I think it had to do with the reason we feel certain feelings, the root cause behind how we perceive the world. How our character is often hidden behind so many past events, thoughts, and environments. And in trying to get to our actual self, we can never truly find what lies deep below. I remember the connection now. Last night I was watching the movie My Dinner with Andre, and one character was telling the other about his travels and attempts at self-discovery.
But you went to the Sahara.
Oh,yes, we went off into the desert...
...and we rode through the desert
And we rode and we rode.
And then at night we would walk out
under that enormous sky...
...and look at the stars.
I just kept thinking about the same things
that I was always thinking about at home...
...particularly about Chiquita.
In fact, I thought about
just about nothing but my marriage.
And then I remember
one incredibly dark night...
...being at an oasis, and there were
palm trees moving in the wind...
...and I could hear Kozan singing
far away in that beautiful bass voice.
And I tried to follow his voice
along the sand.
You see, I thought he had
something to teach me, Wally.
I would meditate with him.
Sometimes I'd go off
and meditate by myself.
I would see images of Chiquita.
Once I actually saw her growing old...
...and her hair turning gray
in front of my eyes.
And I would just wail and yell my lungs out
out there on the dunes.
the desert was pretty horrible.
It was pretty cold.
We were searching for something, but we
couldn't tell if we were finding anything.
You know that once Kozan and I...
...we were sitting on a dune,
and we just ate sand.
No, we weren't trying to be funny.
I started, then he started.
We just ate sand and threw up.
That's how desperate we were.
In other words, we didn't know why we were
there. We didn't know what we were looking for.
The entire thing seemed
completely absurd, arid and empty.
It was like, uh...
like a last chance or something.
So what happened then?
Anyways the script goes on and on. But I realized that I wanted to look out into the vastness of space and looking out into the vastness of the sand dunes and looking out into the vastness of the strong colors in the heavy sky. Studying the surrealism movement shows our innate stream of consciousness and how that reflects depth. Somehow our stream of consciousness grasps our inwards character better than deep contemplation. But perhaps there's something past that.
There's not much point in arguing the semantics of something physically untestable, but faiths and philosophers do it nonetheless. . . . .or maybe there is a point but I'm unable to see it.
Now, on this dreary and boring Thursday. With everyone bleakly gossiping in groups, and the world moving slowly as if it too were drowsy, I am disturbed by the monotony. I want to catch fire, combust suddenly and cause panic and confusion. I want my body to be warm and comfortable as if it were in a bath as everyone looked at me with bulging, judging, discombobulated eyes. For that passion to seep into the minds of others and trickle down into their being like rainwater through coarse dirt and rock. I want for my passion to move them like the winds move the earth, weathering their outer bleak perspective into sand. I want to walk with them on the sand as just beings, just beings on fire, laughing and dancing to the music of the world. And above all, I want to dream with them until death, with all the archetypes and mysteries and secrets of the world fluttering by.
For now all I can do is scratch at the surface. My claw marks leaving brief instances of depth into their character, trying to dig out what makes them alive. So far I've been able to get nowhere, and it's like I'm clawing at sand with more just pouring into the holes I've dug. Once I find one fascinating aspect in someone, a desert of bleakness washes over it and buries it further. And I wonder if beneath all of it we're monsters or angels.