Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Is Unrequited Desire the Progenitor of Potential Realities?

As a young Philosophy student, I pondered the status of potential worlds. What, I asked Myself, is a potential world? Does it exist? If it does exist, then is it potential properly? Are potential worlds generated? If so, by what?
I think that now, decades later; I have some of the answers I sought so long ago.

We are all familiar with the experiences of unrequited love and disappointment.
We tend to think of these experiences as negative and undesirable because they cause us great discomfort.
To make matters worse, we have been taught to believe that the resulting ruminating, fantasizing, wondering what might have been are unhealthy, "obsessive" ways of thinking that should be eschewed. We are admonished for "brooding".
We are told to "buck up" and "accept reality" and "cope".
We are told that to imagine that which is not, is "magical thinking", which we are told is the weakness of children and the feeble-minded. We are taught that brooding is futile.

But is pain the measure of whether or something is undesirable?
Birth, for instance, is very painful for most women. Should it be eschewed, then, and considered undesirable?

Perhaps the thought process that we well-nigh universally experience as the result of not having that which we desired, of having our hopes dashed is not called "brooding" spuriously. Perhaps, indeed, we are hatching something. Perhaps the pining for that which we wanted and lost, or never realized, is a species of birth pangs.

When we get that which we dearly and urgently desired, our reality lines up fairly neatly with how we visualized and hoped things would turn out. The pretty blonde who moved in next door accepts our invitation for dinner. We ace the interview for the coveted job. Our fantasies and hopes and visualizations become concrete reality. All is well with the world – this world.
What has actually happened is that what they call a "Quantum Collapse" in modern sort-of-scientific jargon has occurred. One reality has come into being and our minds do not visualize alternatives because we are satisfied with the results.

What happens, however, when our hopes are dashed? What happens when the neighbor next door, who we have come to really like, does not wish to begin an intimate relationship or we do not get the job in the office with a view that we wanted, and perhaps need, so very much?

We begin to brood. We begin to visualize how we wished the event had turned out, but did not. We begin to second-guess the person's motives for not granting us our heart's desire. We begin to weigh all sorts of possibilities as to why the rejection occurred. Maybe the boss already has someone else in mind for that job and interviewing me was only a formality. Maybe the boss wants his nephew to have the job. Maybe I wasn’t qualified enough. Maybe I said something offensive during the interview. Maybe my suit is not fancy enough…

Maybe the girl next door is interested in someone else. Maybe she is gay. Maybe I had bad breath. Maybe she wants someone richer than I. Maybe I am more intelligent than she feels comfortable with. Maybe….

Each one of those possible scenarios - *exists in a potential world*.

The satisfaction of our desires creates an actual world. Our visualization and reality lined up and there is no reason to visualize alternative scenarios. A "Quantum Collapse of a cloud of possibilities", as they are wont to call the phenomenon nowadays, occurred.

Not having our desires fulfilled, however, generates a virtual tsunami of thought. We begin to examine every possibility we can think of looking for an explanation of why we did not get what we so fervently wanted.

Now here is the beautiful part. Each of those scenarios that we imagine is but one potential event *in an entire potential world*. No individual event can occur without having an entire world as a support system for that scenario. If we imagine, for instance, that we lost the job because someone was better qualified than we, we are creating a potential world in which there must be potential qualification, and potential methods of acquiring those potential qualifications, and, therefore, in that world the concept of acquisition potentially exists...A potential scene in a potential world must be supported by all sorts of potential phenomena.

Now here's the part that's even more beautiful: Some of the potential elements in that potential world may be just what someone in an actual world might want or need. Maybe that which the person wants or needs does not exist in that person's actual world, but it is a necessary element in the world which is the support system for one of our ruminations, our brooding. We have hatched a world in which someone's desires may be able to be fulfilled, including our own.

If that which exists potentially in our imaginary world, as part of the support system of that which we hoped existed, are things and circumstances that many others embrace, perhaps that desire is enough to make our potential world into an actual world.

And if that is the case, then the non-fulfillment of some of our desires in this world is not only positive, it is immensely productive. Unrequited Desire might be the Progenitor of other worlds – worlds that begin in potential might just might be actualized if enough folks need or want it so.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

Join the Blue Ribbon Online Free Speech Campaign
Join the Blue Ribbon Online Free Speech Campaign!