Saturday, July 31, 2004

The colourful life of contrast

Good and bad co-exist, and gain definition by their contrast. For example, I think Adam and Eve gained knowledge of Good and Evil by their act of finding out what evil was through disobedience, not by anything magical in the fruit. But I am not talking about moral contrast here, I refer to experiential contrast. How can we really appreciate the mountains if we don't have valleys? How much more vibrant is a painting when there is contrast of colours?

So it is not only with our experiences, but with our sense of achievement and failure. People who live so carefully without taking risks may very rarely feel like a failure, but I daresay those same people rarely feel successful. I think people who attribute most of their life influence to external sources live in a world of little contrast between success and failure. Yet, the people who are more 'self-made' can feel an all-consuming sense of accomplishment, and yet also one of failure. In my observation, emotions tend to contrast from month to month, day to day and hour to hour. Some people cannot bear to face the agony of heart-felt defeat, so they forfiet the chance to feel a hard-earned victory by living a life of midtone. Other people cannot bare the midtones, and paint a life of bold highlights and shadows.

And which is better? Never getting hurt and hardly getting happy or having a life of emotional highs and lows? I guess I could be totally off the mark with this. Thoughts?


Fraser Dron said...

How can you be off the mark when you haven't yet decided in favour of either alternative?! Hah! :-P

incognito said...

I meant perhaps this is not the way it works... and asked for thoughts about this idea.

Fraser Dron said...

Ha, sorry Reubz 8-)}

I suppose it's the usual story: two extremes are obvious, and most people fall somewhere in the middle. (this also applies to the nature/nurture debate, as well as just about everything other issue I've encountered in psychology :P)I think my personality leans towards the play-it-safe side, although I do have plenty of highs and lows. (Or do they seem higher and lower than they really are? interesting...)

Nathan said...

So you're saying manic depressives have it great?

Anyhow, I'd just be careful to avoid yin-yan dualism, that says for every evil there is a good, and for every good there is an evil.
I believe it is theoretically possibly to have the highs without the lows, depending on what you 'get high' on.

incognito said...

I'm not taking any particular stand on this one. I personally am fairly lacking much contrast. But I like the Tron's comment that maybe we just get used to it and the highs and lows seem just as big as everyone else sees their own.

I'm also not really talking about mood (e.g. manic depression) - but rather life decisions and experience. Does the cost of success always come at the price of potential failure? Can we achieve anything worthwhile without an equally frightening risk?

Andrew said...

I think perhaps that some virtuous things can only be manifested due to the presence of something negative.
eg. Only if someone is suffering can you mercifully help them.
And, as Jesus' said, it's the one whos more sins are forgiven that has the greater love.

Thus we get the possible conclusion that one reason why suffering and evil etc is in the world is because it paves the way for love and mercy and goodness to an extent that they would not otherwise be possible.

Of course, this has led me in the past to wonder whether it would be necessary for God to create more worlds containing suffering once this world is rectified and we're in heaven or whatever... which seems to lead onto Origen's dubious doctrine of a double-infinity of worlds (ie that God has in past and future created and continues to create an infinite number of worlds)... which seems dubious.